If you think about dying with dignity, it can bring up a different image for each of us. For some it may be going to a hospice center or hospital with professionals providing comfort care. For others it may be having the choice to die at home surrounded by loved ones.
When a person with a disability chooses to die at home, it may be their family home or a community living arrangement. The people providing support could include family members as well as roommates, service coordinators and a staff of paid providers.
Imagine all the different opinions and personal issues that come up along the way.
As a result, we need to begin talking about death and dying, the different roles people play and how it affects everyone involved in the process.
Facing death together
Talking about death is not an easy thing to do, and when someone is dying, it can be even harder. The finality of it all is hard to accept not only for the person who is dying, but sometimes, even more difficult for those left behind.
A few years ago my own Mom died. In her situation we were given time to do some planning; to bring her home with hospice and to support her in the choices she made at the end.
I won’t pretend that it wasn’t difficult, it was, but I knew my role and was given incredible support of my own throughout those difficult months… and I will say without a doubt it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
Everyone plays a role with support
This month, we will talk to Kathy Kopitsky, a Residential Director who has supported several adults with disabilities who chose to die at home in one of her community living arrangements. She will share her role in the process, personal experiences and the impact they have made on her life.
We will also speak to Nancy Ledoux M.Div., a chaplain from the VNA Hospice Care who specializes in providing education for people with disabilities, family members and the professionals who support them in the process of death and dying.
The experience of supporting someone through the process of dying can be difficult, but it really is ok to talk about it.
For those who have been there, I’m sure they will agree; the sooner we begin the discussion, the better.