“Thanksgiving.” Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word, first, as “the act of giving thanks.” Second, it’s “a prayer of expressing gratitude.” And, third, the word means a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness.
We each have our own stories about how a loved one’s life has ended. If we’re lucky, that beloved person had a good death: in sleep, perhaps, or simply of old age with no hospital events or trauma.
Then there are the Rest-of-Us who share family stories and experience of long and painful endings, in institutional settings often coupled with costly, so-called “heroic” but unwanted futile care.
When you’re already in the situation of making tough health decisions toward the end-of-life, it’s tough, it’s emotional, it’s irrational, it’s energy-draining…and, it’s the wrong time.
Futile care is not a new-new thing. 2400 years ago, Hippocrates counseled clinicians to, “refuse to treat those who are overmastered b y their disease, realizing that in such cases medicine is powerless.”
But love is not.
The right time to have that sensitive, considered, intimate dialogue is now, before that inevitable time comes for decision-making.
The questions at Engage in Grace dot org, shown in the chart of five queries, are a helpful roadmap for inspiring that conversation. Alexandra Drane, Founder of Archangels, Cashier at Walmart, and Co-Founder of the Eliza Corporation, knows all about how to have conversations in health: she’s leveraged technology to innovate such conversations. Engage with Grace is Alex’s long-time mission to inspire these conversations within extended families and tight social networks.
The Thanksgiving meal in America is a time where we are surrounded by the people we love most: family, friends, our close-in communities and social networks. Check out these five simple questions; if you haven’t yet covered these with your tribe, Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to do so.
Remember Merriam-Webster’s definition of the noun and holiday we celebrate in America ever fourth Thursday of November, every year.
If you can’t have this conversation during Thanksgiving week, anytime is the right time to Engage with Grace. Designing your end-of-life strategy, and putting it in a digital form that your caregivers, Powers-of-Attorney, and physicians can access, is the ultimate in consumer-directed health and empowerment.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: Mostly every U.S. Thanksgiving, I post this essay on the Engage With Grace project and the opportunity to inspire an end-of-life conversation once the tryptophan (and perhaps some good wine) kicks in after we consume the holiday meal.
The American Thanksgiving occurs on the last Thursday of November each year. This year, the Eve of Thanksgiving coincides with the 60th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As I think about JFK, whom my family held in very high esteem, I ponder his words shown in the photo: that, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation, is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
Heeding JFK’s wisdom and recommendation, let us be grateful on this holiday. And let us endeavor to be the best community members we can be, mindful of and helpful to our national and global community of brothers and sisters in life….and in death.
We, each of us, have the power to help to support each other’s health – mind, body, and spirit.