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Establishing a Living Will

By Chuck Lauter

In February, 2010 Joan Shiels gave an outstanding presentation on Living Wills*, exhorting each of us to make sure we had provided this documentation. Each of us has the right to determine our own medical care! However, if we become incapacitated, someone has to make these decisions. In the absence of clear directives from the individual, chaos reigns; witness Karen Quinlan in New Jersey, a number of years ago, or more recent national  cause celebs. Such situations cause great anxiety and anguish for the family. Joan stated that the greatest gift we can give to our families is a properly executed living will.

UUFDC has delayed establishing a program on living wills because other local religious groups were doing so. In a show of hands at a recent Sunday service, it appears that few have taken advantage of those opportunities. Therefore, SRC and Adult Enrichment have combined to provide an opportunity for UUFDC members to prepare a living will. This written, legal document spells out the types of medical treatments and life-sustaining measures you do and don’t want, such as mechanical breathing (respiration and ventilation), tube feeding or resuscitation. In some states, living wills may be called health care declarations or health care directives.  As defined on the Mayo Clinic website.

A two-session workshop on living wills will be held at the UU January 16 and February 6, 2-4 P.M.. These workshops will be a hands-on Opportunity for UU Members and Friends using the State of Wisconsin Notice To Physicians and other documents to make our future wishes known. Each question on the forms will be explored and then each person will write her/his own answers. Participants will then be encouraged to discuss the forms with family and other concerned parties, returning to the second session to complete the document, signed and witnessed.

Joan has advised us that the greatest difficulty will be getting people to attend the workshops since we do not want to confront our own mortality. Please attend, recognizing Joan’s plea that this is a great gift to our families. Set aside January 16 and February 6, 2-4 P.M., for this important activity.