EOL: The Chat We’re Not Having

No need to be alarmed, friends, and no need to pay keener attention if you happen to be a beneficiary to my laughingly meager estate. I’m as healthy and sound as any near 73-year-old might be, and probably sounder than most, if perhaps a bit grumpy and too quick to snarl at certain things, hopelessly confusing digital products and republicans, for example. I’m fine. Really. Relax.

But yes, there is a common theme to the books pictured above: We’re beginning an endeavor, first at the local level, later on, we hope, with a broader reach, to encourage people to tend to their end of life wishes, desires, specifics, and loose ends. It’s a long story.

Suffice to say that both Mariah and I, having worked in the vineyard of emergency medicine for several years, have seen far too much flagrant inattention to the details of our collective demise, too much ignorance (Ignore-Ance) of the way that we in our hyper-medicalized society always seem shocked and unprepared for life’s ultimate inevitability. Did you know that you’re going to die? Astonishing, isn’t it? I know, I was amazed to hear it myself. Who knew?

About the book picture: One thing you’ll see posted here on a regular basis is book reviews, not just about EOL issues, but about the literary works I’ve been drawn to recently, and a few not so recently. It is indeed one of retired life’s deepest pleasures to have (almost) sufficient time to read what one wishes, without the aggravating interruptions of modern life, kid concerns, career distractions, loud noises, and the incessant social obligations that once defined our younger years. I’ve become resigned, even thrilled by the lack of interest of late in discussions of my bladder issues, or my real feelings about the new hearing aids, or remembrances of favorite TV shows of yore, Lassie, and Laugh-In, and the ever popular, madcap antics of Andy & Barney & Aint Bea & Opie. I’ve discovered that the fastest way to clear the room may be asking who shot JR? Life is good at 73.


The picture above is Mariah and me, and mom Rosie. We 3 Masketeers live together in relative harmony here in the middle of the country, in the middle of an Iowa winter, in the middle of the apparently waning pandemic. We navigate the standard discomforts of shuffling around each other, making the adjustments called for in any family setting. All that, plus Rosie’s advanced age, the winter of her life, have given us added motivation to focus on EOL stuff.

So here’s your homework, dear readers. In my diminished sentience & inattention to such things, I no longer know to whom I’m writing. If you’d be so kind, take a moment to advise me #1, if you did indeed receive this post, and #2, if you’d like to continue receiving them.

And I suppose number three might be this: If you’d like more info on EOL, end of life issues, and/or you have an interesting and valuable story pertaining to that topic, we’d love to hear about it. Speaking of EOL stories, in my next post, and with deference to HIPAA guidelines, I’ll mention a fellow named Daniel, one of my helicopter patient/passengers some foggy years hence. Daniel’s story will chill your arms, I guarantee it. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading. Please let me hear from you. Many thanks.

10 thoughts on “EOL: The Chat We’re Not Having

  1. By: The EOL conversations is so important. As a Buddhist, I have contemplated our Impermanence for years, have found it grounding & almost relaxing. Highly recommend Being Mortal and, thanks to you & Mariah, It’s OK to Die about “having the conversation” & planning –
    way before one lands in the ER!


  2. Bertina M Povenmire

    I got it–the blog, that is. Didn’t figure out what EOL means till next to last sentence. Still don’t know what HIPAA stands for. Might consider spelling out for those of us who still use whole words. However, since there is a lot that I’ll never figure out anyway, don’t overburden yourself.

    I love Rosie’s mask–a taste of spring.

    So the conversation goes like this: I love you. You don’t need any of my advice. Don’t keep me artificially alive. Sorry my paperwork is such a mess; ou’re your father’s daughter, you’ll plow through it in no time.


    1. Your EOL (End Of Life) specification is a good start. Next post I’ll make a not quite definitive list of what’s really needed, such things as a will, and a durable power of attorney for health care, and the stipulation of a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order etc. HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability And Accountability (act). It’s the law passed in ’93 that keeps your medical records secret, among other things. Thanks for reading!


  3. Tony Marconi

    Definitely keep me on your list. I really enjoy your posts, By. I’m in good shape as far as EOL issues go (so far). A couple of years ago, I decided that Martha wouldn’t need one more thing to worry about when I headed out to whatever comes next, so I wtote my own memorial service, had 200 copies of a memorial chapbook of verse printed up [ I’ll probably only need a couple o dozen 🙂 ] and selected the music–one of the songs will be “Always look on the bright side of life from Mony Python’s Life of Brian. I even lined up a couple of friends to do the reading if Martha isn’t up for it. there will even be scratch-off cards if anyone out there is feeling lucky and wants to come.
    Watch this space for an even bigger space, coming soon, but not-too-soon I hope!



  4. Anita Oliver

    Like you, it has always amazed me that so many people haven’t prepared themselves nor their families for their inevitable deaths. Richard and I had “the chat” early on in our marriage when our only child was born and prepared our first will. Over the years we updated various versions, added life insurance and then medical directives as well as telling our son and another trusted relative where all our important documents were. Once we moved to Portugal, we also prepared a Portuguese will to cover our few assets here and then prepaid cremation plans which involved covering the topic of any preferences for services and where to scatter the ashes. There is no way to prepare oneself for the passing of a loved one but knowing what my husband wanted when the time came and not having to guess at any decisions made his death somewhat easier.
    So enjoyed seeing a photo of you all in your stylish masks and catching up on some of your posts. It sounds like things are going well for you!


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