When I accepted the call to become Hancock Health’s second full-time chaplain in 2003, I was a healthy 45 years old. I had home, life and auto insurance. We even had a will, but what we didn’t have is any idea of what we should do for each other in the case that something happened to one of us. We were young and that kind of thing happened to “older” people.
A few weeks ago, something almost happened to me. Driving home from work, I stopped at a rural intersection where the crossing traffic did not stop. I guess I was in a little of a hurry. I saw a truck to my right slowing down to turn left. He was still a ways back and I decided that I would not wait for him.
I released the brake and started on the gas when I saw a flicker of motion to my left. A fast moving truck was nearly into intersection. He saw me start to roll forward and hit his horn. My foot jumped back to the brake. I lurched to a stop and he passed in front of me so closely that I could see the terror on his face.
I would have been seriously injured at the very least. As I drove home, I felt the reality of my mortality. I saw myself lying bloody and unconscious in a trauma room and my wife being called upon to make the hardest decision of her life without us having talked about it beforehand.
Having a conversation about ultimate matters is crucial whatever one’s age or marital status. Surveys say that 60 percent of Americans believe it’s important to not burden their families with last minute crisis decisions, but only 56 percent of us have communicated our wishes. 82 percent say that we should put these wishes down in writing, but a mere 7 percent of us have.
Hancock Health is a leader and innovator among health systems our size. Both Chaplaincy Services and the Hospice and Palliative Care departments have made 2017 the year to have this conversation. It’s time to:
- Print off two copies of the Healthcare Representative Form, available on our website HERE.
- Schedule a conversation with the person you want to speak for you. Most likely you will agree to speak for each other when needed.
- Get a signed copy scanned into your medical record.
- Give a copy to your Primary Care Physician and anyone else on your healthcare team you feel is appropriate.