Advance Directives: Taking Control of Your End-of-Life Journey

Death is an inevitable part of life, and yet it remains a taboo subject in many cultures. However, avoiding the topic of death does not make it any less real or imminent. In fact, being prepared for our mortality can bring peace of mind and help us take control of our end-of-life journey.

Advance directives are legal documents that allow you to make decisions about your medical care in advance, should you become unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself. They outline your preferences for medical treatment and appoint someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

Types of Advance Directives

When it comes to advance directives, there are several types that you should be aware of. Here are the most common ones:

1. Living Will

A living will is a document that outlines your healthcare wishes if you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate. It typically includes instructions about life-sustaining treatments such as artificial nutrition and hydration, resuscitation, and pain management.

Even the kind of funeral or burial arrangements you prefer can be included in a living will. For example, if you wish to be buried in Salt Lake City and have a headstone prepared for you, you can specify this in your living will. Other details such as organ donation and religious or spiritual beliefs can also be included.

2. Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare

A durable power of attorney for healthcare is a legal document that designates someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. This person, known as a healthcare proxy or agent, should be someone you trust to carry out your wishes and act in your best interest.

It’s important to have open and honest conversations with your healthcare proxy about your values, beliefs, and medical preferences. Make sure they understand the responsibility they are taking on and are willing to advocate for you when the time comes.

3. Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order

A DNR order is a medical order that tells healthcare providers not to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest. This decision is often made when a person has a terminal condition and does not wish to be revived through aggressive measures.

Note that DNR orders must be signed by a doctor and may need to be renewed periodically. It’s important to discuss this option with your healthcare provider and include it in your advance directives if it aligns with your end-of-life wishes.

Why You Should Have Advance Directives

Having advance directives allows you to have a say in your medical care, even when you are unable to speak for yourself. It gives you control over the type of treatment you receive and ensures that your wishes are respected.

Not having advance directives in place can also create unnecessary stress and conflict for your loved ones. Without a designated healthcare proxy, family members may have differing opinions on what is best for you and may struggle to make decisions on your behalf.

How to Create Advance Directives

Creating advance directives involves thinking about your values, beliefs, and medical preferences and discussing them with your loved ones. It’s important to also consult with a lawyer or healthcare professional to ensure that your documents are legally binding and accurately reflect your wishes.

Once created, make sure to review and update your advance directives periodically, especially if there have been changes in your health or personal circumstances.


Talking about death can be uncomfortable, but planning for it can bring peace of mind and ensure that your end-of-life wishes are respected. Advance directives are powerful tools that allow you to take control of your healthcare decisions and make your final journey more comfortable for both you and your loved ones. Consider creating advance directives today to prepare for the future with confidence and clarity.  So, don’t wait any longer, start taking control of your end-of-life journey now. 

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