Be Here Then

why and how to write & create an ethical will, hospice card, or other legacy

Archive for the category “Ethical Will”

I Guessed Incorrectly. Will You?

Taking a break today from end-of-life care issues, I read this blog post by Eric Barker and my guess, despite all my work on ethical wills, was mostly incorrect for what one piece of advice older folks would want to give to younger ones.

What do you think you would advise?



In hospice, what words you use matter

Read this hospice’s two ways of conveying a concept and see if you, too, can feel the difference.  Do you think they are saying the same thing?  Or do you think that, in fact, they are saying two very different things, conveying two very different perspectives?  I love hospice, and these folks seem to “get it” about language.

The above  is a good example why on this site I emphasize the importance of carefully choosing our words.

Writing about illness, end-of-life issues

While having to spend a bit more time on family care and away from here, I came across this post from NPR Health News, “Why More Patients Should Blog About Illness and Death.”  Title just makes you want to run and read it, yes?  No, most of us probably would rather run the other way.  Just for a second — don’t.

I think it’s a good read, and a great prompt.   Think about some conversations you may need to have with your own family.   And think about what you want to leave as your legacy.  If you write a blog along these lines, then you already have the material for an ethical will.  If you read some of these blogs, then you will undoubtedly get some wonderful ideas and, I hope, the comfort of knowing others are having these difficulties, and these conversations, and doing all right.

Good reading to you!

A Biblical verse that might be of comfort in a hospice card

Find a blank card with an image on the front that you find peaceful and comforting.  A ray of sun blazing through a forest; a setting sun over the ocean; sheep in a green pasture; a path through the woods.  You get the idea.

Then write Psalm 23 inside.

Sign it in whatever way is appropriate to your hospice person.  I’m a fan of “thinking of you very much” at least.

Here it is:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for though art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  [even just this line alone is lovely]

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

–Psalm 23, King James version

Poll: Write your own hospice card, or buy one?

Hospice “cards:” remember the person’s sensory abilities

And another post in the hospice cards theme although I think the idea can also apply to your ethical will.  I have a friend who lost her vision some time ago.  But long before that, we had a fun, crazy time shortly after college that involved letters back and forth and Tillie Olsen‘s book Tell Me a Riddle.  Every few years, we’ll remember the silliness we wrote back and forth, and still crack up.

If this dear friend were in hospice care, I would not send her a card. Read more…

Show your face: here’s one way to make your own hospice cards

To continue the previous post’s theme of hospice cards, despite our typical focus on ethical wills, here is one idea for how to easily make your own card to give or send someone you love who is in hospice care:

This one is based on the premise that I think being surrounded by photographs of the people I love and the places I love would be heartwarming. If you can’t be there visiting, I might still like to look at you and smile.

jackson for hospice card(You could even send me a picture you took of my dog that day you reminded me that lake water doesn’t move, like tidal water does!)

So here are two simple versions: Read more…

End-of-Life Issues and Hospice Cards

While a main focus of Be Here Then has been ethical wills, it also concerns itself with end of life issues. This includes hospice, that service of helping patients live as fully and as well as they are able when cure is no longer an option, or is no longer sought. When someone is knowingly facing their ending days, it becomes difficult for many of us to know what to say, or to do. Frankly, it scares a lot of us.

We have few, if any, models for how to relate. Regina Holliday has become another patient care advocate, and started a petition to ask Hallmark to start a line of hospice cards. I have signed her petition, and I encourage you to visit her blog and read her story.  But that’s not all —

I confess a wee part of me is a bit dismayed, because one of my plans was to introduce exactly that: a line of “greeting” cards that might be usable for friends in hospice care. Of course, as John Lennon sang, life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans, and the cards idea had to be back-burnered.

But we don’t have to wait for a greeting card company to help make this conversation.  Why don’t we start, ourselves — by imagining what kinds of things we might want to have written in a card to us, as a way to help figure out what to say to someone we love who is now in hospice care.

What follows are a few examples of what I’d love to read from a few of my friends, and one example of what I would write to one of mine. Read more…

Status update: why I am not writing my ethical will just yet

This place is where I usually post “how-to” and “how-not-to” write an ethical will or legacy letter.  However, since very recently I have found myself needing to take family matters in hand for those too ailing to handle those matters themselves, keeping up with my planned posts has been nigh impossible.  Instead of writing about end of life issues, I am living them much more personally even than I did when I volunteered  and worked at hospices.

Living these issues is very different from reading about them.  Those of you who have already gone through the experience know that, but those of us who haven’t — yet — can only think we know.

I realize that this is yet another reason for writing an ethical will or letter to the ones we love, and the ones who will come after us that we can love through the letter’s creation:  each experience we have alters us, shifts our perspective even if only ever so slightly, and if we are really lucky, makes us wiser.

Having read those pamphlets and been in those support groups that say “treasure each moment” with your dementing family member, that some of those moments may be the most meaningful you will remember of them — I’d think “yeah, yeah” and flip the page or wait for a new topic to come up.  Well, la la la, they were right.

So, while the planned posts will indeed come, they will come a bit later.  Right now, I’m living the material I will write about.  What about you?

Ethical will ideas abound in this book…

This article will point you to a book and an example of its contents — a resource for generating some ideas for your own ethical will or legacy letter.  Not the usual “philosophy lite” material, those of you with an appetite for richer, deeper fare may value it:

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