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  • Ann Hollander

Writing the last chapter


If your loved one has health challenges, they may be feeling a loss of control. Add to that a terminal diagnosis and a sense of doom may prevail.

But recognizing that life is coming to a close does not have to mean one waits glumly for the end. Following are some of the many ways hospice patients have chosen to take action and purposefully write their own "last chapter." Perhaps one of these might appeal to your loved one:

  • Write or record a life review. Somewhere between a memoir and "lessons learned," in a life review your relative can share pivotal moments and why they were important. Take dictation for typing later. Or go to StoryCorps.org for an app that helps families video-interview relatives.

  • Finish a cherished project. Perhaps it's a quilt that is not completed. Maybe it's a piece of furniture still unfinished in the shop. Or perhaps your loved one would enjoy a show-like exhibition of their artwork. Is there a way to publicly acknowledge their creativity?

  • Reconnect with estranged relatives or friends. Asking and bestowing forgiveness is a deeply meaningful activity. Old grudges usually melt away in the context of limited time.

  • Write cards to family members. One way to be present even after death is to write cards or letters to be given at particular life passages.

  • Have a celebration of life. Perhaps your relative is of the temperament to invite friends to gather and share stories before their passing rather than after.

  • Leave a legacy to help others. This doesn't have to be anything grand like a scholarship. It can be as simple as books for a library or sports gear to a young team. Perhaps donate organs for transplant.

  • Actively enjoy the simple pleasures. If ever there was a time to slow down and smell the roses, this is it. Many find deep contentment in the gift of each day.

Does your loved one have an incurable illness?

The final passage comes for everyone, but that doesn’t make it easy. As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we at Options for Aging have walked this journey with many families. Let us support you. Give us a call at 847-868-1445.

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