Experience Gave Me the Courage to Begin Talking to My Dad

Four years ago my mother died from cancer. During her illness, we gathered as a family and talked about what was important to her and how she wanted care to proceed during her final days. At the time we didn’t have the benefit of any kind of guiding document to help us, but she was clear in her conversations, and we were able to fulfill her wishes at her death.

My father is 82 years old, and although he is in very good health, I know things could suddenly change. Through my work, I was made aware of the Be@Ease campaign and was introduced to the Five Wishes advance directive planning tool. After reading the document, I realized I needed to have a conversation with my Dad and begin the process of having him complete one for himself. Over the Christmas holiday I found the courage to broach the topic of completing his advance directives. I explained to him that I didn’t want to talk about his estate or the inevitability of his death, but I did want to have the same comfort we experienced with my mother’s death. He surprised me by admitting to feeling the same way – not wanting to talk about his death, but relieved to be able to start sharing with family his thoughts and desires for his final days.

My experience with my own Dad spurred me to invite members of Be@Ease to come and present to my friends and colleagues. I know many us have parents who are aging, and this is an issue we all need to address within our families. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the resources provided through the Be@Ease website to help in addressing this important issue.

Alexandra Bernardi
North Barrington