Talking about death and dying is still a taboo topic in Singapore, as it is in many societies. But holding back wouldn’t do us any good.
Plan how to leave well, if we want to live well, say Head of the Division of Palliative Care at NUHS, Dr Noreen Chan and Senior Assistant Director at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s Centre for Biomedical Ethics (CBmE), Sumytra Menon.
“How many of us have planned for something like that? Have we made a will, or bought ourselves accident or life insurance?”
All of us will die one day, it is only a matter of when, where and how, yet for a phenomenon that is universal, we spend very little time planning for it.
To avoid misunderstanding, guilt and conflict, one should have discussed and communicated their values, goals and wishes ahead of time, in the event of unfortunate incapacitation.
These discussions should raise questions of what it means to be living well before leaving well. The answer may vary, not just between individuals, but with same person across his or her life stages.
Advance planning can be done, for example, by agreeing to let the doctor decide whether or not to prolong your life through the signing of an advance medical directive (AMD), or planning the management of your affairs in advance through a lasting power of attorney (LPA).
Many people probably worry about burdening their family, emotionally and financially, but do not realise that this burden may be lessened by having conversations with their loved ones about their values and what a good life means to them.
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