Website Helps You Prepare for End-of-Life
In July, 2009 Jose kissed his wife and went out for a bike ride on a gray Seattle day. He never was able to return home. A van hit him. And while he had enough of a flicker of life to be brought to the hospital, he died. And his wife, Chanel Reynolds , mother of two children, had no clue about many of the necessary details of their life together. She didn’t even know the password to his mobile phone, let alone insurance and financial details. She was unprepared for the death of a loved one, not just emotionally, but you could say “functionally.” And you and I know most of us are in the same boat.
Fortunately, out of her grief and struggle to put order to the chaos she learned many lessons about what needed to be done. She did it for herself but didn’t stop there. She launched a free website, getyourshittogether.org, so we don’t have to face the same bewilderment.
Many of you who read my blog have a serious diagnosis. Maybe it’s one that could shorten your life. I have two diagnoses like that, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and myelofibrosis. You would think I have gone over details and documents with my wife Esther. She keeps asking, and we always – I always – put it off. When my friend and colleague, Pat Elliott, suggested I write about this topic she noted it could help many, and then she added “and you personally.” How right she is!
Chanel’s website has a checklist of all the things you should get a handle on right now. But she doesn’t stop there. She has forms for living wills, wills and a lot more. Free. As I write this we are over a month past New Year’s, but I never made a resolution. This is it. I will face up to the checklist, slog through it, and download as much as I can to Esther. I am betting she will give me a lot of info too. I will also do my best to get Esther to do the same.
Neither of us is expecting to leave this earth anytime soon. But that exit is inevitable. And it will very likely not be on a schedule we pick. Jose’s sudden death reminds us of that. So now, while I am thinking about it and friends like Pat are nudging me, I will “get my shit together.” Jose’s death was not in vain, and we all owe Chanel a debt of gratitude. Please join me in in facing up to our own mortality and organizing the details so the loved one(s) we leave behind don’t have extra heartache at our passing.
I welcome your comments and your own stories.
Wishing you and your family the best of health!
Andrew is the author of the new book The Web-Savvy Patient: An Insider's Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis. He is a respected medical journalist and 15-year leukemia survivor. He founded healthtalk.com and patientpower.info and has hosted almost 3,000 online talk shows for patients with chronic conditions and cancers. Many of America's leading medical centers support ...