Who’s important?

personal decisions

Substitute, Surrogate, Proxy, Agent

Many words, each meaning the same thing: person or persons who are going to make end of life decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to speak for yourself.

How important is it that your Substitute Decision Maker know and accept your end of life wishes?

Extremely!  Those important in your life may:

  • have different expectations and different plans for you at life’s end
  • think they’re the one (s) who know you better than anyone else
  • be ready to argue you into seeing it their way
  • be interested in your ‘wishes’, but reluctant to talk about their own

Being ‘assigned’ to make someone else’s end of life decisions without being consulted can be a traumatic role, and a traumatic experience:

“Evaluation of more than 2,800 surrogates indicates that this practice places emotional stress and burden on at least one-third of surrogates, which is often substantial and lasts months or, in some cases, years.” Oncology Nurse: Burden of Care amongst surrogates

Consider talking over what worries you with those who play a meaningful role in your life:

  • spouse/partner
  • children
  • grandchildren
  • siblings
  • in-laws
  • good friends
  • health care providers
  • community (exercise buddies, friends through church, synagogue, mosque  etc

Note: Your partner may not be the best Substitute Decision Maker as I discovered in talking with my husband: he will want to keep me alive as long as possible, whatever my wishes otherswise may be.

When completing your BestEndings Advance Directives, consider sharing with everyone who matters, and who may be involved in health decisions in the event you can’t speak for yourself:


 Interesting reads: Men writing about the end of life

Things I’ve learned from dying

 ©Kathy Kastner