What am I dying of Is Not The question to Ask

James Hospitalization, Life Lessons, Living Wills

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.

Dressed up, mother and daughter smile for the camera. Only one bothered to think, "What am I dying of?"
Jennifer and Jan Land

Jennifer was only 50 years old when she passed.  Like others at that age, she didn’t think much about dying, nor did she 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, and a living will.  She had also made many other critical end of life decisions. Mom even made a video about her life.  Amazingly, she 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 some of the items found in the GoGracefully PonoBook.

Jennifer, on the other hand had done the five or so things. She did what 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. It is also the reason that my life is now dedicated to the mission of GoGracefully.

Our Mission & Purpose
Advancing the understanding of end of life while serving the living

James Land, Founder

Creating Peace of Mind

As I mentioned above, there are many 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. Here are five to get you started. 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.

On her death bed, my sister did wonder aloud, “What am I dying of?” Which is a good question we should ask ourselves in the best of health. However, 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 speak for themselves. A living will is 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. They ensure your wishes are known if you become unable to speak for yourself, and that is exactly what did not happen in my sister’s case.

Cover of the Five Wishes document.  Completing one will help you learn to say, "It does not matter what I am dying of."

(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.)

The Story (Part 1)

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.This story continues under the title: Christmas In The Intensive Care Unit