In the fall of 2020, Greg and I had a Zoom meeting with two pastors from our church who knew that he was going through a tough time medically and wanted to check in on how we were doing. I am so grateful for so much of what they shared with us during that call. Looking back, I wonder if they saw more clearly, or at least suspected, that Greg's life was coming to an end. We were both far too close to see how rapidly he was going downhill but I imagine others may have noticed had we been around them (which we weren't due to COVID).
During our Zoom meeting, they encouraged us to make sure our Wills were up to date. We had last updated them before moving to VA in 2016 with a plan to find a lawyer once we were settled in and make sure that our PA Will held up legally in VA as well. But of course, life and time got away from us and we never did. Who carves time out of their normal lives to work on legal documents? We certainly didn't even though we always knew that Greg's life was tenuous and we were more likely than most to rely on a will at a younger age.
I don't remember what they said that moved us to finally act, but it worked and we made an appointment with a lawyer shortly afterward. Not only did he help us update our Wills, he gave us a 5 Wishes document. We had never heard of 5 Wishes before talking with our lawyer.
5 Wishes is a very comprehensive living will that covers items that are typically in a Living Will or Advanced Directives - the type of life-saving measures you want (if you are in a situation where you cannot communicate) and the end of life comfort measures you want, as well as last words that you would like to share with family and wishes for internment and memorial services.
I, of course, filled mine out quite quickly, looking at it as one more task to complete and thinking that I would likely live for many decades. Greg, of course, thoughtfully and slowly filled his out being incredibly intentional about everything he wrote down.
Greg only lived for a short time after our 5 Wishes were completed. I never could've imagined on the day that handed them over to our lawyer to be notarized that I would be back in his office alone, so soon.
Greg's death happened so unexpectedly and quickly that I never looked at the 5 Wishes to make decisions for his care. However, when it was time to make hard decisions about burial and services, I was so grateful that I could pull out his 5 Wishes and see what he wanted. Those decisions would be terribly hard to make under normal circumstances, but making them when you are in shock and so much emotional pain that you can barely breathe, they feel impossible. I am so grateful that Greg took the time to make hard decisions and think through hard things so that I didn't have to. In fact, I updated my 5 Wishes shortly afterward, now realizing how important they are and that one of the best ways I could love my family after I die would be to do as much as I can to relieve the decision they would have to make.
It's not a fun thing to do, but I would like to encourage you to consider filling out a 5 Wishes form. They are very inexpensive and worth their weight in gold.
You can find out more here: https://www.fivewishes.org
** And no, this is not sponsored or anything like that! Just passing on something that helped during some of the darkest days of my life.**