The Last Chapter of Life

The Last Chapter of Life

Lisa Page, Psy.D.

This is a topic that people don’t normally choose to discuss. However it is important to make considerations and make your wishes known ahead of time.  Although most of us don’t welcome death, it is far more difficult to make life and death decisions under pressure, for you or family members. Realistically, nobody wants to make these decisions for themselves, let alone someone else.

For most it is instinct and impulse to “do whatever it takes” to prolong life.   However, quality of life and death need to be considerations.  Life sustaining treatments are uncomfortable!  If you have ever spoken to people who have undergone life sustaining treatments, they have often experienced broken bones, loss of oxygen, possibly resulting in brain damage, and few are ever able to return to their pre-incident mental or physical capacity.  Few are able to experience any significant quality of life again.

The truth is, people want control over their lives, and that doesn’t stop even when nearing the end of life. This was recently discovered in a new study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry that delved into the controversial topic of what defines a “good death.” Through this study researchers identified 11 core themes of “successful dying” including pain-free treatment, emotional well-being, dignity, quality of life and relationship with their hospital.

In the dying process, consider where you want to be.  So you want to be at home?   Do you want to be in a hospital? Do you want tubes in your throat to help you breathe, needles in you and various machines attached to you for various purposes?  How long would you be comfortable living in a nursing facility if this was your only means of survival?  Consider your options for pain, spiritual and emotional well-being, and those you wish to have around you.

So what to do now? Talk to your doctors about it. Let your loved ones know your wishes and put them in writing on legal forms so that you and your loved ones can be more at ease when the time comes.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has downloadable forms for “Do Not Resuscitate” DNR/POLST (Physician Order for Life Sustaining Treatment) and also information on Living Wills and advanced directives.

For more information, visit the web site of David Kessler who is a leading expert in the field of grief and needs of dying at

Also – talk with a Psychologist at Barnes & Klatt, P.C. by calling 847-981-9200 ext.100.

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