‘Do not be afraid’ during what can be a fearful time

Written by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, for Today’s Catholic

One of the most loving things you can do for your family today is, unfortunately, one of the most neglected. It is not about preparing financially for your family. It is not about providing adequate shelter or enough food to eat. It is about preventing the unnecessary burden and responsibility of making healthcare decisions for you at the end of your life. Nobody should have to carry the burden of making healthcare decisions for another, unprepared. I urge all who read this to complete their Advance Directives. Completing a Medical Power of Attorney and a Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, sometimes called a “living will,” will ensure that physicians and healthcare organizations will honor your healthcare wishes,
and will not burden your family with making those decisions for you.

When Jesus met with his disciples in the upper room for the Last Supper, He was making an act of preparation. He was preparing his disciples for the future. He was relieving them of a burden that they were not yet aware existed. It was an act of love. When Jesus appeared to those
same disciples after his resurrection, He was again preparing them for a future without him in person. He was again relieving them of a burden
that they were not yet aware existed. It, too, was an act of love. Advance care planning is also a loving act. Of course, we all want physicians to honor our healthcare wishes at the end of our natural lives, but we also want what is best for our families. Decisions made at the end of life are often very difficult ones. It is common for family members to place their wishes for a patient’s care ahead of what the patient might want.

By completing Advance Directives today, through an act of compassion and love, we, like Jesus to his disciples, assure them, “Do not be afraid,” during what can be a very fearful time. The Medical Power of Attorney allows you to designate someone whom you choose to communicate your healthcare wishes if you are unable to.

The Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates asks you to choose care related to life support if you are in a terminal or irreversible condition.
All adults should complete these two Advance Directives. As a loving faith community, I urge all parishioners to take these critical steps today. Completing the documents is very easy and takes just a little time. The reward is a direct expression of love.

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