Conversations with the Dying: Five Wishes, Wish One

My son’s father’s sister and my friend for over 20 years was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.  She is an amazing, independent, insightful and gentle person. As she is the 3rd person in that family to be diagnosed with cancer, there is a lot of distress and upset about her wishes.

We will all know and love someone that dies. If the gods are kind, we will have the time and opportunity to let that person know how much we love them and what we value about them before he or she passes on to whatever lies beyond. The gods have been kind to me in this instance and I am grateful.

I go see her almost every night after work. We are having conversations about how she wants the time she has left to be. And we are working through an amazing document, Five Wishes.

Wish number one is who do you want to be your health care agent. There is a lot involved in making that decision. The document lays out all the pertinent questions. But the bottom line comes down to: in the event that you are unable to make the decision yourself, who do you trust to know you well enough, to understand you heart and soul deeply enough, to make the hard decisions so that you die the same way you lived?

In the Norse tradition, we are very invested in our reputations. We believe that it is the only reliable thing that survives us when we die. So the person you choose as your health care agent also becomes the person that makes sure you die how you lived. Choose wisely.

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