My Experience with Mother on End-of-Life

My mother passed away at her home in 2017 at age 93 years old. For more than a year, her health deteriorated at first slowly and then rapidly in the last 6 months of her life. In the final month, my mother stopped talking and stopped to eat and drink. Her doctor was called in to see her at home. The doctor was not optimistic with her medical conditions and mentioned that she won’t last long. He was spot-on.

My brothers, sister and I had to make decisions on her behalf. Decisions such as tube-feeding and sending my mother to hospital were considered. The fortunate thing was that we knew what my mother would want in a situation like this. She would definitely not want to go to a nursing home. We engaged a domestic helper to look after her in her later part of her life.

As for funeral rites, my mother had been telling us for several years what she wanted, precisely down to the number of days to have a wake, the type of funeral rites, cremation instead of burial, where to place her urn and which temple to place her ancestral tablet. She had even bought places in two temples for the purposes many years ago.

My mother started this kind of conversation early with all her children and my siblings and I had no issues with carrying out her wishes. What was less certain was determining the medical care she would like during the last months of her life.

Everyone faces the end of life. It can strike at anytime. In order to ease the burden on our children taking care of us, we should at least talk about medical care we want and about dying. This is where the Advance Care Planning (ACP) can help. It has a downloadable workbook one can use to guide us in this conversation.

It is often an emotional matter when one is faced with making decisions for the loved ones. Even when a person has only one child, he/she may have close relatives who may want to have a say in such matters. If the person’s wishes were not made known, then there could arise unpleasant disagreements.

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