“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
For the next thirty minutes, we challenge you to pause, ponder, and write down your thoughts as we walk through an exercise. Before we begin, it’s important to note that activities like this are not easy, and distractions are expected, so it might need to be completed in parts. The reason is that the pace of life has been ever-increasing in speed, and today, many things ask for our attention leading us to pick and choose what we deem is worthy of our focus. While there has been good from this change, such as ease of connectedness, quick access to news, streamlining of online platforms, and quick order process for items and services.
Advanced Care Planning
In addition, there can be quite a few personal and cultural barriers regarding end-of-life discussions and advance care planning. When someone is asked to talk or think about their final arrangements, many thoughts can begin to race through their mind. Whether they’re ready to have any conversations, they might overestimate their time or diagnosis; they could not see the importance of planning or their unidentified fears about the unknown and accepting that an end will happen sometime. The level these are experienced will also depend on their health, family support, and relationships with their medical team. Their primary doctor might occasionally bring it up; their kids might joke with them about if something were to happen or notice that more of their friends and family are frequently passing. Or, for some, an unexpected diagnosis, rapid health declines, or losing someone close might make these conversations seem more important and overwhelming.
Sooner Rather than Later
Nevertheless, the conversations will need to be had, and decisions will be required some time if that’s later or sooner than expected. Our bigger takeaway; We hope to express is that when families have discussions or you think about these things sometime sooner rather than later, there is often higher satisfaction and long-term comfort. Families can feel at peace knowing that their efforts are matching the wishes of their loved ones, they can see how final arrangements truly represent their wishes and tell others what was important to them, and it allows for grief to be acknowledged and addressed when their ready rather than not having a choice or burden by sudden situations.
Your Story & Final Wishes
It’s not about checking boxes when having these types of conversations, but a telling or sharing of a deeply personal story. Time shouldn’t be rushed; things should be adequately processed and revisited when life milestones happen, in case your wishes change. Our care team at Greenlawn understands that this isn’t easy and that there is a stigma about discussing topics related to end-of-life and funeral homes. Therefore, we suggest starting small and then, once you have given some thought to it yourself, finding a time to share your opinions with trusted family members or leaving documents in a safe place when final arrangements are needed. We’re always happy to help guide conversations and record your final wishes, but you can always journal what your last wishes might be at this point in your life.
Below, we have provided what we feel are some great journal prompts to facilitate these conversations and begin the process of what my final wishes might be if something happened. Journaling promotes give you a path to follow as you write and encourages you to examine parts of your experiences that you may not have looked at before. They are also a great habit when thinking about mental health and can be passed down to future generations as a gift if desired. This exercise should be a low-stakes starting point when thinking about final arrangements and wishes. Yet it still can be helpful to ease future burdens, reduce doubts when making decisions, provide peace of mind, and help finalize arrangements and costs. Take some time to ponder what this journal promotes; you might be surprised what you learn when you take the time to write in a safe space. Also, if you feel better after journaling or enjoy the process, we encourage you to look at other journaling prompts on your own.
Write about a favorite memory?
Describe yourself in ten words or less.
Write about a skill that has served you well.
What’s your famous movie quote, song, or movie?
Write about something that always makes you smile.
If your wardrobe could only be one color, what would it be?
Do you celebrate any holidays? What’s your favorite?
What would you like to be remembered for?
What do you love the most in your life?
Where is your “happy place”?
301 Journal prompts for freedom and insight. (2022, April 24). Your Visual Journal.
75 Journaling prompts for your best life. (2018, June 18). The Bliss Bean.
Communication in palliative care: Talking about the end of life before the end of life. (2016, December). Postgraudate Medical Journal.