Estate Planning vs. End-of-Life Planning Workbook

James Living Wills Leave a Comment

Who needs an end of life planning workbook? Well, most of us are familiar with Estate planning, however, few of us address the deeper issues of creating a real end-of-life plan. In this article or Video Here, you will find information on the GoGracefully end-of-life planning workbook. Discover this excellent resource to support all your end-of-life needs—please read on!

Most of us believe we need a lawyer to do our Estate Planning.  Perhaps, this is true for some, but for the vast majority of us, all we need is a little guidance and encouragement.  Technology has made the creating of these documents simple, and easy to create in minutes or hours on a computer. 

Estate Planning is really a small subset of what has become known as End-of-Life Planning.  It is the goal of this article to give you general information about end-of-life planning, access to an end-of-life planning workbook, and to direct you to affordable resources to accomplish this critical work. 

The PonoBook

GoGracefully has created a comprehensive workbook to put all this into perspective.  We call it the PonoBook.  Our end-of-life planning workbook addresses material decisions, psychological and emotional choices, and spiritual preferences.  The GoGracefully PonoBook derives its name from the Hawaiian word “pono.” Pono has over 80 possible meanings, which are all related to righteousness. Because of this, creating an end-of-life plan is the right thing to do for both our loved ones and ourselves. 

Sadly, most people are focused largely on the material decisions. Unfortunately, these issues are of little concern at end of life.  The PonoBook starts with these material decisions. We provide end-of-life planning worksheets to complete the 5 essential documents most of us need.  These documents include: an advance healthcare directive (living will) for medical decisions, a power of attorney for financial decisions, a will, a trust, and a quitclaim deed.  Our workbook includes a comprehensive worksheet for collecting all the information pertaining to your material decisions. Thus, we provide a master checklist to help with the deeper aspects of end of life planning.

Three Critical Aspects of Planning

As our title eludes to, there are three critical aspects of end-of-life planning.  The material decisions mentioned above are often what leads to hiring an attorney and spending thousands of dollars.  This is no longer necessary for those of us with basic computer skills.  The GoGracefully services page makes it easy for you to link directly with attorney-created documents. These documents can be filled out in the privacy of your home.  Because of this, it is time to get started now, or read on to discover the other two critical elements of end-of-life planning.

The psychological and emotional choices are briefly addressed in the document known as a living will.  Most living wills are written in legalistic language, which has a tendency to mask the important choices contained in such a document.  No matter what state you live in your psychological and emotional decisions will be enhanced by the study and completion of an additional resource known as Five Wishes. 

The Five Wishes document, often referred to as “the living will with heart and soul,” provides a much deeper exploration of these decisions.  This is true, even in Texas and seven other states that do not honor the Five Wishes document.  In those states, the Five Wishes document can become an addendum to the legal version of the advance directive.  GoGracefully offers a free copy of the Five Wishes to all our Essential and Personalized Support Service clients.

A truly deep exploration of emotional and psychological choices at end of life goes beyond the documents mentioned above.  To help people sincerely go gracefully we created a section in the PonoBook to cover this important area in more detail.  We specifically addresses three critical components of end-of-life exploration: how to create a vigil plan, how and why we can create meaningful legacy work, and how to communicate your wishes with loved ones—especially those who may be challenged by your wishes. 

The vigil plan is a one or two-page document that is actually posted in the place you will spend the final days and hours of your life.  This document makes clear to all who are present—loved ones and service providers—exactly what matters most to you.  There are many other details that a properly prepared vigil plan addresses, which are found only in the PonoBook.

Additionally, the PonoBook lays a foundation for matters associated with communicating with others about these personal choices.  We include tangible resources for healing and forgiveness.  There are also several exercises you can complete. These will aid you in your efforts to create peace with the people in your life.

Lastly, with respect to our emotional and psychological work, the PonoBook offers insight on how to share your legacy.  We all have a story. Legacy work is where you pass your truth, beauty, and goodness on to all future generations.  Legacy work is done alone or with the help of others. It also appears in many forms, which are thoroughly addressed in the PonoBook. 

The Sacred Realm

The last part of the GoGracefully workbook deals with the sacred realm. We offer nine unique exercises to help you explore the role of spirituality as you approach the transition of death.  This exploration is open to everyone from the most devout religionist to an avowed atheist.  All can benefit from the wisdom distilled down from generations of great teachers and texts referenced in the workbook. 

GoGracefully remains committed to advancing understanding of death while serving the living.  We are a resource, a support service, and a place to begin the practice of living more fully.  Our PonoBook is a valuable tool for anyone who is overwhelmed by end-of-life planning. It is also an excellent resource for people who are technologically challenged by the idea of do-it-yourself legal documents. 

Remember, dying gracefully is tied to the art of living joyfully.  We offer an end of life planning workbook, support creating living wills, coaching for the creation of all end-of-life documents, and personalized services to guide anyone through online creation of legal documents.  Start now, and go gracefully!

First Ever End-of-Life Doula Training!

River Flow Uncategorized Leave a Comment

On November 3-5 the North Hawaii Hospice hosted the first ever end-of-life doula training in Hawaii. GoGracefully had the pleasure to help facilitate this event. There were fifteen participants over a three day intensive workshop. The training included many exercises to develop skills associated with being present. Along with many practical aspects ranging from recognizing signs at the end of life to providing comfort for both the patient and the caregiver. The new trainees created their own end of life plans, completed hands on patient care hours, and will attend continuing education classes. The End of Life Doula Training is a thoughtful planning about how the last days can look.

To compensate for this unmet need that exists in our modern world, GoGracefullyTM has created a more extensive training program to train thousands of GoGracefully GuidesTM.  Our program calls for vigil care and educates trainees regarding the critical aspects of emotional and spiritual support for both the dying person and their loved ones. Students work alongside our Master GuidesTM  to provide non-medical support. Creating support for the emotional and psychological aspects of death is a vast subject.  To view more details about this program, click here.

Christmas in the Intensive Care Unit

James Hospitalization, Living Wills Leave a Comment

Leaving Hawaii is hard, but not for the reasons you might suspect. People often tell me how lucky I am to live in Hawaii and when they say this I usually suspect that they have a picture in their minds of soft sandy beaches, palm trees and mai tai cocktails. The truth for me is something quite different.

My family and I live in a very small town in the North Kohala district of the Big Island.  There is no traffic, no fast food establishments, nor any real reason to go fast.  Those of us lucky enough to call Kohala home, are blessed with the beauty of the land and the charm and character of the people. Aloha is truly alive in Kohala.

So, as I kiss my wife and children at the airport on Christmas day, I know I will be homesick before long. I also know that I am going to the San Francisco bay area where I will be thrust into the intensity of both the place and the pace of what most call “progress”. What I do not yet know, is that I will soon be forced to make multiple difficult and painful decisions ultimately leading to the decision to let my sister die.

The elevator to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on the 9th floor at UCSF Medical Center is very fast as it moves between floors but it seems to sit idle for an disproportionate amount of time when the doors are open.

We stop seven times before we reach the 9th floor. As the doors open I look into a large room filled with people sleeping in chairs next to tables scattered with empty pizza boxes and other fast food bags. Rambo is stitching up his own arm on the television. I quickly turn right and walk past that room. Days later I find myself in that room despite the feeling of helplessness it conjures up in my mind.

Behind the glass doors of the ICU I enter a world that never stops. There are beeps, moans, alarms, strange smells, miles of tubing, coffee cups here and there, giant rotating cylindrical beds, constant movement, stoic parents, brightly colored stuffed animals, white coats, tattooed nurses, monitors with jagged lines and flashing florescent colors, withered children, large windows with views of distant hills, blood soaked bandages, and finally, my sister, Jennifer.

My adult daughter, Audrey, who lives in the Bay Area, is with me to see her auntie. We are both somewhat surprised as Jennifer greets us with her big white-toothed smile. Then there is a sudden crash of hope when she tries to speak. Her voice is hoarse and her thoughts are muddled, but she is clear about one thing when she looks me in the eye and says, “Jim, I want to go home.” Before I can respond we are interrupted by a retinue of white coats all standing behind a smiling internist named Sriram Shamasunder who looks to be about 30 years old.

The conversation then switches to hushed tones as this team of physicians explains to me the seriousness of the situation. The medical terminology and speculation abound. Having been a paramedic when I was younger, I am able to follow much of what they are telling me about Jennifer’s condition, but I quickly become lost when the discussion turns to blood test data and transplant qualification criteria.

The essence of what I learn in the first 30 minutes of being in the ICU is that Jennifer will die if she does not receive a liver, and perhaps even a kidney transplant. The conversation concludes with Dr. Shamasunder telling me that a final decision will be reached at a group meeting of “the team” on Friday—in just 4 days.

As the group departs the bedside, an orderly arrives with a unit of blood for Jennifer’s nurse. As the nurse and orderly enact a verbal dance involving blood type and patient identification, my eyes trace the tubing from the now almost empty bag of blood hanging above my sister’s bed, to a location on her neck where the central line appears to be leaking. When I point this out to the nurse she says, “Bleeding can be a side effect of liver failure because the liver also makes clotting factors. Currently, your sister needs continuous blood or she could bleed to death.”

Because we’re all dying

James Uncategorized 2 Comments

Congratulations on finding this website!  What you are about to discover will change your life and your death. This unique approach to end of life planning was born on December 30th 2016, the day my sister died.

Jennifer was only 50 years old when she passed, and like most of us at that age she didn’t think much about dying, not to mention, plan for it.  On the other hand, our mother, Janice, was 85 years old when she died, and she was ready.  She had created a trust, a pour over will, a living will, and she had made many other critical end of life decisions. Mom even made a video about her life and wrote letters to each of us children in her final week of life.  While my mother’s preparation was adequate she only chose to do about 15 of the over 100 items on our proprietary End of Life GuideTM.

Jennifer, on the other hand had done the 5 or so things that most of us who fancy ourselves prepared for death have done.

She had the following:

  • Living Trust
  • Pour Over Will
  • Financial Power of Attorney
  • Medical Power of Attorney
  • A brother (me) who knew about those documents

What she did not have in place, however, is the essence of this narrative, and the reason that my life is now dedicated to the mission of GoGracefullyTM.  As I mentioned above, there are over 100 things that we can do to create peace of mind in both life and death for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for the world at large. The more awareness we bring to the other critical choices and actions—besides the big 5 above—the more peace and stability we will create.

My sister’s biggest mistake was not having a living will. A living will is a written statement detailing a person’s desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, also known as an advance directive.  There are many styles of living wills available and some need to be specific to the state you live in, but they all, essentially, accomplish the same end; ensuring your wishes are known should you become unable to speak for yourself, and that is exactly what did not happen in my sister’s case.

(This is such an important document that GoGracefullyTM will give you a free copy of the only “living will with a heart and soul.”  It is called 5 Wishes and it usually costs $5.00, but we cover this cost for all of our members.)

It was Christmas Eve 2016 in Hawaii when the call came, my 3 daughters (all under 9) were in the state of mind you would expect when I pulled myself away from them to answer the phone.  It was a doctor from the emergency department in Sonoma, California.  Apparently, Jennifer, who had a history of liver disease, was having some trouble breathing due to ascites and she was being transported to UCSF medical center to be evaluated for a liver transplant.  When I asked the doctor how serious it was and if I could spend Christmas with my children before flying out he replied, “If you want to see her again you should not delay.”  As I found out just 5 days later, the doctor was correct.  So, I left my wife and children on Christmas Day and began the most difficult journey of my life.