Regrets and Five Wishes

“For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story… We have purposes larger than ourselves.”

– Dr. Atul Gwande

“There is a quiet courage… in the choice to be present in this new day… to accept this gift, to believe that we are worthy still of happiness, of ease, of delight and hope.”

– Rev. Gretchen Haley, UU

For those of you who missed last Sunday, the sermon was about using Halloween skeletons as an annual helpful reminder to check in about our own mortality. I wanted to share a few resources from the sermon here.

The first is a link to the very short article by Susie Steiner from The Guardian about the “top five regrets of the dying”, as observed by a palliative care nurse in Australia.

The second is a link to the home page of The Five Wishes, an advance directive described as a “living will with a heart and soul”. You can order either a paper or a digital copy from the website; if you have family members far away, the digital version has a fully digital signing and witnessing option.  I forgot to mention that we had some copies of The Five Wishes on the table at the back of the sanctuary on Sunday, although some of you did find them.  We have ordered more, so check that back table again the next few weeks if you’d like to pick one up.

Even if you know you just won’t get to this project this year, the questions that The Five Wishes introduces are good ones to mull over.  They are:

Wish 1: The Person I Want to Make Care Decisions for Me When I Can’t (health care power of attorney in 46 states and D.C.)
Wish 2: The Kind of Medical Treatment I Want or Don’t Want (a living will)
Wish 3: How Comfortable I Want to Be  (comfort care)
Wish 4: How I Want People to Treat Me (desire to die at home or not, other preferences)
Wish 5: What I Want My Loved Ones to Know (forgiveness, remembrance, burial and memorial preferences)

The nice thing about the document is that it spells out a lot of the options that you might not think about, and it is easy to cross off some possibilities or add your own preferences. Kim Adami suggests sitting down at a kitchen table with another person and filling it out together over a few days as “homework”. Denise VanVooren and I are also happy to help you with this.

This week we will be celebrating the congregation’s 377th birthday. Institutions that old have a lot of sketchy even shameful history as well as a lot of endurance and spirit. Both things are true, so we acknowledge the bad and celebrate the good. The next weekend, Oct. 30th, we’ll celebrate All Souls, when all are welcome to bring in photographs of ancestors and those who’ve died, especially in the past few years.

Hope to see you at the Halloween party on Saturday night or on Birthday Sunday. There will be cake!
Rev. Lee