“Will I die?” is a question everyone asks themselves. Everyone dies, after all. To some, it is inevitable and commonplace. For others, it is a scary and uncertain proposition. We all have our reasons for fearing death. For some, it is fear of the unknown whilst for others, it is the fear of judgment. We are afraid to die because of what might happen after we die but also because of what might happen directly before. Death is scary because it forces us to face our mortality, that death is inevitable. So, what does all of this mean? Will you choose life or death?
Are You Brave Enough to Make Life and Death Decisions for A Family Member?
We all like to think we have what it takes to make life and death decisions. But while we may believe we can, this is not nearly as common as we might like. Many people struggle with these decisions, even though they may know the right answer. A decision like whether to turn off life support or allow a person to die is one of the most complex decisions a person can make.
Although most of us never plan to make such important decisions while we are alive, we all eventually will have to make life-altering decisions for someone else—even if it is just our parents, children, or spouse. We will face those decisions as caregivers for our loved ones. The challenges to these choices have never been more complicated or more daunting.
What Should You Do If You Faced a Situation Where It Is a Matter of Life and Death?
If you are a family caregiver, you may be faced with situations where life and death decisions must be made. These decisions can be particularly difficult to make when one is facing an illness. The decisions you make can be life or death for the person you care for. But some decisions are more difficult to make than others.
If in case you are in this difficult situation, here are tips that you can take when asked to make the life-or-death decision for your loved ones:
- Understand your patient’s wishes. When a loved one is suffering from a life-threatening condition, it is normal to consider every treatment option—from surgery to palliative care—before making a final decision. This process involves asking a lot of questions and gaining as much information as possible. However, there is another step in the process that is often overlooked: truly understanding your patient’s wishes.
- Put one’s needs aside. When it comes to life and death decisions, it is easy to put your own needs aside and fall into the trap of being unable to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes. Putting yourself in another’s shoes does not mean going too far; it simply means being realistic about your own situation and what you can handle.
- Talk to more than one physician. When faced with making life and death decisions, it is all about preparation. One of the most important first steps is to talk to a doctor. Many hospitals and medical centers now offer advance care planning, which guides patients through the steps of completing health care directives. These types of documents help clarify your values and wishes for end-of-life medical care.
- Learn about different care directives. When you or a loved one is nearing the end of their life, it is important to make detailed medical decisions. These decisions might include what type of care they want to receive, who will make those decisions, and what treatments they may or may not want. One of the most important decisions is the type of care you want them to receive. Deciding between “comfort care” and “do not resuscitate” (DNR/DNI) can be challenging, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons for your family.
- Remember that you cannot change what happened. Making a life-or-death decision with a loved one can be painful and stressful. But it is important to remember that you cannot change what happened, but what you can do is make the best of a bad situation and make the best choice you can at that moment.
Many people have at least some knowledge of what to do in the direst of situations. However, most people rarely have to put that knowledge to use. And when they do, it can be a frightening experience. But in certain circumstances, it really can be a matter of life and death.