Family members should respect the wishes of living wills

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Death can be a hard topic for anyone to talk about and plan for. A living will is a legal document that allows people to explain their wishes for medical treatment if they are incapacitated. The instructions in the living will should make the process of death and dying easier for the family members, but at times it does not.

As a nurse in an open-heart surgical intensive care unit, I know that families do not always abide by their loved ones' decisions. How can this be? The decisions have already been made for them and I am sure they were not easy ones to make. It takes a lot of reflection on a person's life, to come to the decision of what extraordinary medical measures they want taken. People want their family members and physician whom they trust most to honor their end-of-life decisions.

Families need to let go of their remorse and honor what their loved ones have documented they wish to have done. Death is as much a part of life as birth. What good is it to have a living will if families and physicians are not going to honor it? People have made their decision on end-of-life care so let's honor that decision.




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