Dear Annie: My question has to do with end-of-life care. I have been beside my father, my mother and my husband as they died. Hospice was used in all three cases. I have never had a good experience with hospice, but that is actually beside the point. My question is this: Does anybody still get to go and die at the hospital anymore, or is that a thing of the past? When the obituaries say the person died surrounded by family, did that person have a choice?
I totally adore my family, but I do not want them taking care of me when I am dying. I would much rather have a stranger do it. I do not want to die in my own house, and I certainly don’t want anyone around me. Has insurance made it so that nobody can do this anymore? I want to die with dignity. This means that I do not want my family anywhere near me in my last weeks. Can this still happen? — Death With Dignity My Way
Dear Death With Dignity: This is a complex, sensitive issue, and I want to be sure you’re given all the information you need. I would recommend calling the National Institute on Aging at 800-222-2225. The NIA can mail you a copy of its guide titled “End of Life: Helping with Comfort and Care,” which outlines options for end-of-life care and lists dozens of additional resources. Be sure to communicate your decision to your family members ahead of time so they have time to process, accept and respect your wishes.
Dear Annie: Your response to “Frustrated Mom,” who expressed her concerned that her 35-year-old daughter is still unmarried, was fine as far as it went, but I have some more thoughts to add.
I was 28 and going through the same unattached phase, going from one bad relationship to the next, when my mother said, “See a counselor.” She actually found a great counselor and set me up with an appointment. With the help of this therapist, I discovered that with all the men I was dating, I was repeating the pattern I’d seen at home. My father’s comforts always seemed to be of foremost importance, so my mother catered to him. I was doing this with the men I dated, too, never standing up for what I wanted. I learned that men don’t really like a person they can walk all over. With the next man I dated, I stood up to him — and that was the man I married and have been ecstatically happy with for 44 years. — Happily Ever After
Dear Happily Ever After: Therapy can be such a valuable tool for understanding yourself, yet people still resist it, so thank you for sharing your success story. Congratulations to you and your husband on 44 happy years.
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