Advance Care Planning

One of the things that surprises many people when a loved one dies is how much paperwork needs to be done about it. Not just the death certificate, but also making sure that arrangements have been made for finances and property, as well as wrapping up personal affairs—things like closing credit and social media accounts, and ending active subscriptions. 

It’s a long list, and can create a lot of problems that need to be untangled. Trying to solve these problems while grieving only adds to the hurt and frustration of surviving loved ones as they go through the work of sorting things out. It would be great if all of these things could be handled ahead of time—and the good news is, they can.

Helping our clients make their advance care plan is one of the most important and fundamental services a doula can provide. Whether a person is old or young, facing a terminal disease or in perfect health, every single one of us is going to die someday. And every single one of us can only benefit from having a plan, whether we are concerned about having our financial affairs in order, or we want to leave clear instructions for what we would like our medical care to look like in the last weeks or months of our life.

But when it comes to making these plans, many people don’t even know where to begin. They have no idea what kinds of things will need to be done or what information will be required. They might be worried about what will happen but not know anything about what their options are. These are the questions they hire a doula to help them answer.

Even for doulas, putting together an advance care plan can be a big job depending on your client’s needs. Every client’s needs are going to be different, and sometimes unexpected. Even an experienced doula might find themselves faced with a client question or problem they’ve never thought of before.

The secret to doing this kind of preparatory work is not to know every answer right off the top of your head. The secret is to know the fundamentals, and to be confident that when you don’t already know the answer, you will know the best way to go looking for the answer. At IDLM, we offer a comprehensive course in advance care planning that will give you that solid foundation, and best of all, make sure you have a plan laid out for yourself!

Our next advance care plan course is scheduled for August of 2024. This is still a few months away so it gives you time to plan ahead—and planning ahead is what it’s all about! But don’t wait too long, because this class will fill up!

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A pioneer of the hospice movement, Ms Karnes has won multiple awards as an End of Life Educator and the author of a number of educational booklets on death and dying which are invaluable for anyone who has lost or is in the process of losing a loved one, and essential for everyone working in end of life work. This week we are honored to spotlight Ms Karnes for our blog, in her own words.

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