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Live intentionally and fully until the end

Live intentionally and fully until the end

At a recent JourneyCare co-sponsored event, author Katy Butler gave wise counsel on how to life live to the fullest until the end.

Speaking to the group of more than 350 gathered at New Trier West for the FAN – Family Action Network, Butler shared step-by-step preparations —practical, communal, physical, and spiritual—to help make the most of one’s remaining time, be it months, years, or decades.

“Most of us do not want to die in a hospital or facility, “said Butler, author of the new book, The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to the End of Life. According to a 2017 Kaiser Foundation study, 7 in 10 Americans hope to die at home.

To that end, she urged audience members to deepen their passions, community connections and to marshal a “tribe” to support themselves or a seriously ill friend. She also advised attendees to seize the power to make any death a sacred rite of passage, rather than a medical event.

For those suffering from chronic illness or caring for a loved one with a progressively terminal disease, Butler’s message is not only about dying well, it’s about living intentionally and in community. It’s important to make quality of life a priority and one that is well planned.

“You don’t want to become a passive victim of your health or a bundle of diagnoses,” she said. “And you don’t want to be a burden on your family.”

She urged family members and friends to have candid conversations with their loved ones, and themselves, to answer the question: “What do you really value when your time may be limited?” She offered several tips:

  • Find your “tribe,” the community of people you have a deep kinship with that can surround you in a hands-on circle of care.
  • Clean your emotional and relationship house. Ask yourself who you need to say thank you, I love you, and/or please forgive me, and goodbye.
  • Create an advance directive, a written statement of a person’s wishes regarding medical treatment, often including a living will, made to ensure those wishes are carried out should the person be unable to communicate them to a doctor. “It is a sacred gift to the generations who follow you.”

During her presentation and as a theme throughout her book, Butler advises: “It matters how you spend your final days, months and years. Have a vision for the people you want to be with you.”