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The Gift of Choice: Issues, Questions, Options


“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully
is prepared to die at any time.”
  ~Mark Twain

Below are some issues you will want to address in making conscious end-of life-decisions, along with some points to consider and  resources that may help in your decision making.

1. What DECISIONS need to be made in preparation for the last stage of our Conscious Dying process?

  • What are my preferences regarding how I choose to live my last days?
  • How do I choose to die? Who will be my Health Care Agent if I can no longer speak for myself?
  • Do I have an Advance Directive authorizing that person to make decisions?
  • Do I have a Legal Power of Attorney who has the authority to transact business affairs when I am no longer able to do so?
  • Have I written a will or trust that names the person whom I want to administer my estate once I die?

Click the following link for information about:
        Advance Health Care Directives

2. What CONVERSATIONS are important to have about my decision-making process?


  • Have I talked with my Health Care Agent about my decisions and made sure that he/she fully understands and is willing to abide by my choices?
  • Does this person have a copy of my Advance Directive?
  • Have I talked to those closest to me about my choices and given them the opportunity to ask questions?
  • Do my doctor, my minister, or the medical staff that is providing my daily care know my wishes?

Click the following links for information about:
        The Most Important Conversations
        End of Life Medical Care
        A Pastor's Perspective: Make Your Last Gift Your Best One

3. What END-OF-LIFE CARE choices and resources are available?

  • What Conversation forums exist in my area (for example, Death Cafes, “Death Over Dinner,” etc.)?
  • Do Hospice facilities in my area have informational meetings or materials? Have I explored options for In-Home Hospice and Residential Hospice facilities?
  • Do I know about the Death with Dignity option that exists in some states?

Click the following links for information about:
        Conversations in Community
        Death with Dignity
        Reflections of an Elder
        "Doctor, I'm ready to die."

4. What DOCUMENTS do I want to prepare for use once I die?

  • DocumentsGraphic.jpgHave I prepared an Advance Directive?
  • Do I want to write an Ethical Will?
  • How about statements concerning the Legacy that I hope to leave? Are there personal messages that I want to be given to specific people upon my death? Do I want to write my own obituary?
  • On a practical level, where are all my important papers? For example, have I left a list of passwords, bank accounts, and information on people to contact? What do I want done with my possessions?

Click the following links for information about:
        Advance Health Care Directives
        Ethical Wills
        Important Papers: Getting Organized

5. What kind of CEREMONIES or REMEMBRANCES would I like?

  • Are there ways that I want to plan or contribute to my ceremony before I die?
  • What kind of service (if any) do I wish be held? Are there any particular requests that I have for a Memorial Service?

Click the following links for information about:
        The Art of Death
        Monica’s Story

6. What AFTER-LIFE CARE options are available?

  • How do I want my body to be cared for at the time of and shortly after my death? Do I want organ donation to be considered?
  • Do I want my body to remain at home or go to a mortuary? Am I interested in Green Burials or Cremation?
  • What do I want to be done with my body or ashes? Have I already made arrangements for this?

Click the following links for information about:
        Monica’s Story
        Green Burial
        Natural Green Burial Cemetery Guide  (last book review) 

7. What further RESOURCES pertinent to Conscious Dying are available on the internet?

Click the following link for additional stories, essays, organizations, etc., that pertain to the above decision issues and, in general, to perspectives on life and death, living and dying:
        Additional Resources