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Importance of Advance Directives


By Kathy Fanger

“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” Psalm 119:50

In last month’s article, “New Year, New Resolutions: Planning Your Legacy,” we stressed that end-of-life planning deserves your restful, intentional focus.

Catholic Cemeteries is here to guide you in understanding and accomplishing essential end-of-life plans: burial property selection, Catholic Funeral Services, an Advance Directive and Estate Planning, all within the embrace of Catholic Church teachings.

Today we focus on a critical legal document which every person 18 years and older should complete, have on file, and discuss with loved ones, doctors and clergy.

Do you have an Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD)?
An AHCD allows you to control the types of medical procedures you want to be provided or withheld in the event of an incapacitating illness or injury. Medical treatments are never required.

An AHCD also allows you to designate a person(s), or agent, who will make sure that your wishes are carried out. This person might be a completely different person than the one you choose to attend to your financial matters. Without an AHCD, the courts or others may have the power over such decisions.

Educate yourself about Palliative Care medications used at end of life that keep people aware, but out of pain. Discover what artificial nutrition and hydration, CPR, and other medical treatments are used for and when they are a bridge to restore health. Consider attending our workshop: End-of-Life Decisions – A Catholic Perspective. Know that your health care agent(s) may always contact a priest for guidance when faced with a difficult decision on your behalf.

Cindy Safe, former Executive Director and founding board member for Coda Alliance, has given advance directive workshops for the past 15 years. People often express that they don’t know how to begin the discussion with their loved ones.

So Coda developed a deck of cards, called “Go Wish,” which features 36 goals that people at end-of-life want to achieve. To identify and prioritize your own end-of-life wishes and begin having these important conversations, play GoWish online or purchase a deck of cards in English or Spanish
(codaalliance.org). Cards are available for purchase at our workshop.

Cindy Safe believes that death has become “medicalized” – most people either die in hospitals or other medical facilities instead of at home – the place most people prefer to die. Do your loved ones know your preference?

It is absolutely essential to have conversations with your appointed agents and your loved ones about your end of life preferences.

After your Advance Directive has been completed, signed and witnessed, give copies to your doctors, agents and family members. Read over and update it every few years. To receive our free Legacy Planning Guide – a comprehensive step-by-step booklet to document important end-of-life information, or make a free appointment, call (650) 428-3730 or visit www.ccdsj.org.

Attend our free workshops
Catholic Cemeteries hosts workshops to assist you in accomplishing end-of-life plans in alignment with Catholic Church teachings. Give the gift of peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones by having these documents in place and with your estate plans. For more information please contact Kathy Fanger at (650) 428-3730 or cemeteryinfo@dsj.org.

Advance Directives
March 3 • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
St. Joseph of Cupertino Parish, 10110 N. De Anza Blvd., Cupertino
Presenter: Cindy Safe
Learn about this essential document which every person 18 years of age and older should have. It names a person(s) to speak and carry out medical wishes if you are unable to do so. Cindy Safe discusses important considerations and case studies. She walks you step-by-step through a sample form. Free.

End-of-Life Decisions – A Catholic Perspective
February 10 • 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Saint Francis of Assisi Parish, 5111 San Felipe Road, San Jose
Presenter: Deacon Ray Gans
Choices at end of life present unique challenges, particularly within a complex and technologically advanced society. Physical death is perceived within modern society as the ultimate human tragedy. This presentation will explore end-of-life choices within the context of faith in Jesus and the moral tradition of the Church. Free.

Planning Your Christian Funeral
February 21 • 6:30 p.m. Hospitality;
7 – 8 p.m. Presentation
Holy Family Parish, 4848 Pearl Avenue, San Jose
Presenter: Father Christopher Bennett
Come learn of the history and comfort of our Catholic Funeral rituals (Vigil, Mass and Committal) and the services and options at Catholic Cemeteries. Pre-planning gives peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones. Free.