1. Bredemeyer, Jennifer RN

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Thank you for the November 2005 Home Health-care Nurse article by Lynn Yetman regarding advanced directive planning. It reminded me of a time in my own life when I wish my husband and I had completed our advanced directives.


I was a nursing student in my final semester of school when my husband died of complications of Crohn disease and sepsis in 1997. Peter's family and I were not prepared for his death. We had three young children and plans for our future. We had not discussed what to do if one of us died. Peter was only 46, and death seemed like such a remote possibility.


The week Peter was in the hospital was a sorrow-filled one. I cannot tell you how our family agonized over so many decisions related to Peter's care and to the end of my husband's life. The hospital clinicians were caring and thoughtful advisors on every aspect of Peter's condition. But no one had the answers to the questions that would have been answered with an advanced directive document.


I have since remarried to a very wonderful, sweet man, but to this day, I wish Peter and I had been better prepared.


Advanced directives not only give the patient control over hard-to-make decisions, they also lift an incredible burden from those who already have enough to bear. Advanced directives help remove the doubt and anxiety associated with making end-of-life decisions for another. If the directives are hand written by the dying loved one, they become a rare treasure for those left behind.


I encourage everyone who does not have an advanced directive to take the time to leave this legacy of love to their families so that when the time comes, family members will not have to wonder if they did the right thing.