Family members complete Five Wishes during a weekend gathering to celebrate a special birthday – sighs of relief for all.

When I started working on Be@Ease, I remembered that my husband Les and I had completed Five Wishes in the past. When I pulled out the documents, I saw that the date was 2005. Back then, we decided we needed to do this because when I worked at Good Shepherd Hospital, I heard stories from our Chaplains about what a nightmare it was for families if someone came to the emergency room without an advance care plan in place.

I looked over what I had written in 2005. Everything in the document was the same as the 2013 version, except that in 2005, Five Wishes was legally binding in only 36 states and the District of Columbia; today, it is legally binding in 42 states and the District. In 2005, over 3 million people had used Five Wishes; today that number is over 18 million. In 2005, it was available in two languages; today it has been translated into 26.

As I read through my wishes, I found that I didn’t have any changes in what I had written. The only thing I needed to update was the phone number and address of my health care agent. People move and change phones.

Les had his birthday in April. It was a big one and our family gathered to celebrate –not as easy getting together as in the past, especially since one of our daughters lives outside the US. We all completed our Five Wishes, and breathed a collective sigh of relief. We had a sense of doing something important as a family to plan for our future before we all went back to our own lives.

Syl, East Dundee, IL