Death and dying are not topics we talk about easily in our culture. As a general rule, in fact, we avoid them, almost as if to talk about them would bring on a premature demise. As a result, many families are unaware of their loved one's wishes at the end of life and are faced with making difficult decisions. This can lead to family discord and can make a trying situation even harder than it already is.
Norene's father, Richard, showed caring and foresight in planning ahead. He thought about what "quality of life" meant to him. Reflecting on what made life worth living helped him to make decisions about life support issues. (It also helped Richard and his family maximize the things that gave him pleasure!) After clarifying his own values, Richard was able to write an advance directive, a document that stated his wishes concerning health care decisions in case he was unable to speak for himself. He talked with his family about his wishes and asked his eldest son to be his health care representative if a situation came up that was not covered in the advance directive. By planning ahead, Richard was able to lay the groundwork for things to unfold the way he would have wanted them to.