What do you do when you find out another one of your friends has lost a parent? With social media being the center of our world these days, frequently we find out news such as this via Facebook, even if this was not the grieving family’s intentions.
I woke up early last week to post something about The Medical Day Planner on the Book of Face and saw that one of my dearest friends from high school had misquoted Shakespeare’s Marc Anthony- I come not to bury Caesar, but to praise him. I had a nice giggle knowing that my friend is far too intelligent to have made such a mistake, and that the misquote was definitely intentional. Then there was a quick status update that he would be in Chico soon. Completely oblivious to what was going on, I texted him to see if we were going to meet up when he was here. Then it dawned on me, who has he come to praise, not bury? SHIT! I began digging around his Facebook page to find condolences by the dozen. Double shit! I had just broken my own “no technology” (no text of FB for condolences) rule without even knowing it. I immediately dialed his phone number, anticipating being able to apologize for my very lame text and give him the condolences he needed. Instead, I turned into a balling blabbering idiot when I heard his voice on the voicemail. I was able to spit out that I was very sorry for his loss, that if he needed anything while he was in town (a room, clothes, food, a hug) that I would do whatever I could, and that I was sorry for crying into his voicemail.
When he got off the plane and received my voicemail, he called me straight away to tell me that it was okay that I was crying on his phone, and that he would see me soon. Ay yai yai!
The point of this blog was not to admit that I am a cry baby at times, even though that is fine. What I wanted to talk about was the rally of support my friend received from his friends and the community. And mention what an amazing job some of his friends (not me) did at putting together a fabulous celebration of life.
The celebration took place at a local “convention center” that was donated and the theme was Hawaiian shirt. For those of us who knew “Q”, the deceased, it was an all too fitting theme, as he loved to wear the most heinous Hawaiian shirts. Q was an avid actor in the local scene and had a smile a mile wide. The ladies who put the celebration together decided on creating a playbill instead of a program for the afternoon. The named the show “The Unconventional Q” and it was put on by “Occupy Everything” Production. (Again, another inside joke, as Q was at the forefront of the occupy movement here in Chico.) The inside of the playbill had all the actors of the show listed; Starring “Q,” Supporting actors “his children” (who I are remaining nameless), all the way through screenplay, director, visual effects…you get the idea. It was creative and just what Q would have wanted.
Death sucks, we all know that. Unexpected death is a double sucky when people aren’t prepared and haven’t asked the questions that needed to be asked. So what questions should be asked? I am happy to lay out a laundry list of tough questions, but I would like to reiterate that these questions do not require an illness or disorder to be brought up. Every able minded human being should have this conversation with the ones they love.
• Who would you like to make decisions for you if you are not capable of making decisions for yourself? (Durable Power of Attorney, Agent)
• What types of treatments do you (or do you not) want in the event that life sustaining treatment is necessary? (DNI, DNR)
• What are your wishes in your final days? Would you like to be at home, in a hospital or assisted living facility? Would you like hospice or palliative care?
• Would you like to be buried or cremated? Where would you like your remains to be placed?
• Would you like a funeral or celebration of life? I know plenty of people who have actually helped plan their own funeral or celebration- picked out music, theme, venue etc.
These conversations do not need to be morbid. They are a reality for all of us, so why not get it out on the table.