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Thinking about important events in your life, your wedding may come to mind. Or, if asked to name another meaningful time in your life, you may say it was the birth of a child. Graduating from high school or college will certainly be another important time that many of you may recall.

While the above mentioned events are very different in several ways, there are some important similarities. One common thread that comes to mind is that they all involved at least one other person, and likely several people. Also, the people involved likely played important roles in your life. The third similarity is all the planning that was needed to assure the event went well.

Have you priced wedding dresses lately? While wearing the most beautiful dress is important to many brides to be, the dress can be a major part of the wedding budget. And the dress is only one of many expenses; the average wedding in this country can often cost thousands, sometimes tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Spending money on a (hopefully) once in a lifetime event seems like a reasonable decision for most of us, and we are also willing to go through a great deal of planning, hard work and even anxiety. Entering marriage, after all, is a very important time in our life.

So, while thinking about important life events, what others come to mind? I would bet that the end of your life is not one of them. In fact, most of us give very little thought to our last days on the planet. If the end of our life is not even thought about, how many of us actually plan for it?

If someone thought the beginning of our life was important enough to plan it, shouldn’t we give the ending as much consideration? Unless we die suddenly, we all will have a life experience called dying. As a nurse for many decades, and now as an end of life doula, I can say with certainty the events of our dying will be either unintended or intended.

I can only speak for myself, but I choose to maintain power and control over every event of my life. And I suspect that I am not alone. But, more often than not, the end of life planning has been overlooked. I am happy to share here the two ways in which we can plan our dying experience. One is called an Advance Healthcare Directive and the other is called a dying plan.

An Advance Healthcare Directive is a legal document created for the purpose of specifying your healthcare choices and designating a healthcare agent who will be allowed to speak for you, should you become unable to do so for yourself. A Dying Plan is more like a wedding plan. It allows you to decide where you wish to die, who you would like to be present, and even how you wish to die (comfort care, medical care and such). 

Call it your “Last Graduation” because this name lightens the event and gives it a sense of happiness. Hire an end of life doula to help plan and prepare, and if desired, let your loved ones in on the planning.


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