An elephant in the room of your mind is something you are not acknowledging or confronting. Instead you are burying your head in the sand and trying to ignore it. Most of the times you are successful, but there are times triggered often by external events that course the elephant to grow and become uncomfortably visible. Constantly ignoring the elephant is detrimental to your health as it causes tension and stress and can ultimately lead to disease.
A common elephant involves the subject of death. It comes from the fear of dying or losing someone close to you. Right now with the Covid-19 pandemic raging and none of us been immune, this fear, this elephant is huge in many homes and minds. It is also difficult to ignore with the daily media reminder of the statistics.
“Lies, damned lies, and statistics“ is important to remember right now as there is no consistency across countries on what counts as a Covid-19 death, or the number of people being tested.
The only guarantee we have in life is one day we will die. Non of us know when that will be. I know of thousands given a terminal diagnosis yet are still with us today, often fit and well. I also know of thousands taken suddenly before their time. Every time we step out of the door there is a risk of being run over by a bus (right now that risk is significantly lower than normal as there are few buses or cars on the road and we are not going out!). In the UK every 4 minutes someone dies of cancer and every 7 minutes someone has a heart attack. (Other western countries will have similar statistics). Thousands die every year from the flu so, it’s important to put the actual risk of dying from the Corona virus into perspective.
None of us have control over our death, or possible incapacitating accidents or illnesses, but we can make our wishes clear and this can help in the quality of death or care received. This also supports our relatives who will be dealing with the estate or your care requirements.
Wills and Powers of Attorney
A will and power of attorney covering financial and health care wishes is essential to lessen the impact of your death or injury on your family. Without a will or power of attorney your loved ones are going to suffer huge additional upset, anger and frustration. They may have no access to finances to pay bills, funeral or medical costs (even joint accounts can be frozen) and they potentially can end up with hefty lawyers bills. If a loved one is sick or injured you have to spend time away from them dealing with various authorities, not knowing what they would really want. In both circumstances it’s extremely difficult to grieve and remember the good times.
For a power of attorney you need to choose someone who can act on your behalf, so choose someone who understands and respects your wishes and is also emotionally prepared. This can be a solicitor, family member, or friend
Many lawyers draw up wills and powers of attorney at a low cost. You can also do a ‘do it yourself will’ online. (Each country does things slightly differently, so check on what is required.)
If you don’t have them in place get them sorted today. There is no time like the present. Once done they can be put in a draw and ignored until needed and the elephant can go to sleep.
I have done a lot of bereavement counselling and the ones who really struggle with grief and guilt are the ones whose family had not made a will, or their wishes known.
Talk about your wishes and know the wishes of your loved ones.
Do you know your loved ones wishes and do they know yours?
You are doing yourself and your loved ones a disservice and possible harm by not having the conversation of what they and you want. It can be a difficult conversation to start, but its well worth it and often there is relief all around that its up for discussion
When you bring up the subject you may get responses like
“Oh don’t think about that”
“It’s a long time off”
Respond with “I know this is a difficult subject, but it’s really important we discuss it. Besides it will clarify what everyones wants and save a lot of grief for everyone in the longterm “
It is better to do face to face. Right now because of the isolation and lockdown rules it will need to be done over the telephone or internet for those in a different household, but can also be done in writing. A family get together can be useful (in normal times) so everyone is aware of each others wishes and you can have a thorough discussion. A good place to start is sharing what you have written in your health wishes part of the power of attorney and why you have made these decisions.
3 essential questions are…
Do you/they want to be resuscitated? Age, existing chronic health conditions and levels of potential incapacity, or different eventualities need to be considered. If your mind is damaged beyond hope of repair you might have a different response than to just physical disability.
Do you/they want to be buried or cremated?
Where are wills and power of attorney stored?
It can be hard bringing up these subjects, but usually it’s a great relief . It’s ok to shed tears and to be vulnerable. This exercise often brings people closer together and once the wishes known does not need to be discussed again unless circumstances change.
If you want any support I am here for you. Just reach out.
Wishing you a long and healthy life.