Sign a living will, while living well

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 9/12/2019, 4:23 p.m.
Today, I would like to introduce you to the Homebody family. Mr and Mrs. Homebody enjoyed the company of two ...
Will and pen

Today, I would like to introduce you to the Homebody family. Mr and Mrs. Homebody enjoyed the company of two lovely children named affectionately, Brother and Sister. This family was an ideal, well functioning and happy family until Mr. Homebody, experienced a stroke and life was sustained for a month on mechanical ventilation. During this period, the family was under great pressure to remove the patient from this artificial means of life.

Of course, many arguments took place with the family as to whether to keep daddy Homebody alive. Finally, Daddy died and funeral arrangements had to be made concerning what to do with his remains. Mama Homebody and her daughter, Sister, decided that cremation would be the desired means of burial. However, Brother thought otherwise. He definitely expressed that he did not believe in cremation for his father and certainly, not for himself. The battle line was drawn. What to do with Daddy Homebody whose body now was in limbo.

Brother related how his Daddy used to sing those favorite spirituals, “I Got Shoes, You Got Shoes…All of God’s Children Got Shoes…When I Get To Heaven, I’m Gonna Put On Those Shoes and Strut All Over God’s Heaven.” His other memorable song was, “Just A Little Closer Walk With Thee,” and also his most loved song was, “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.”

Now Brother was concerned that if his Daddy was cremated, there would be no feet to strut or climb, therefore, as far as he was concerned, there would be no cremation.

Mama suggested that they call their family doctor, Dr. Deas. Now, I don’t know why I had to be drawn into this seemingly unsolvable problem, but I was. I personally could have avoided this scenario if I Daddy Homebody had signed a living will document relating exactly what to do if he was placed on life-supporting equipment. He also could have expressed his wishes on cremation or a viewing of his remains. In fact, looking back now, I think all doctors should advise their patients to have a living will document executed by a lawyer. This would certainly prevent arguments of family members and save many deeded dollars.

After being called in to this family dilemma, I finally had Momma and Sister agree with Brother to have a formal funeral. Luckily, Daddy Homebody had ample insurance to pay for his rest at “sundown.” In fact, they had enough for two stretch limos.

At the funeral, everybody hugged, laughed and cried because this husband, father, uncle and friend was a wonderful man who did great things for everybody. He had certainly been “somebody.”

To get information on living wills seek advice from your attorney and I am sure he or she will be able to ensure your final wishes and avoid complications.