Families Are Messy

by Jill Francis on December 6th, 2013

Families are messy.  Even the most functional families have “stuff”…the things that make them frustrated with one another, conflicts that are never completely resolved, expectations that are never met, comparisons that are unfairly made, differing perspectives, incorrect assumptions, the list goes on.  Add to that mental illness, addiction and the simple, everyday brokenness of humanity and families are just plain messy.  And when a crisis occurs, “messy” can become disastrous.

A friend of mine sat with me over coffee and tears a couple of years ago and told me of her mother’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.  As the youngest and only daughter, she wanted to make sure her mother’s finances were managed properly, and that she received good care during her final years, but her family was divided and she wasn’t sure they would all agree on how to care for their mother.  There was alcoholism, drug addition, mental illness and selfishness to contend with among her brothers and she knew her mother’s eventual decline and death would bring turmoil and potentially, violence.

I explained the importance of seeing an attorney right away, so her mother’s wishes could legally be established while she was still lucid…something that is extremely important in cases of dementia.  She also needed an attorney who would be willing to stand up to her brothers, in the best interest of her mother, should the need arise.  She needed her mother’s Power of Attorney, so she could act on behalf of her mother and so she could manage her mother’s finances.  And since most dementia patients don’t wish to be revived if their heart stops, her mother also needed an Advance Medical Directive and DNR (do not resuscitate). 

Fortunately, my friend listened and legally took care of her mother’s end-of-life wishes.  And when the time came, the Power of Attorney also served  to have a violent brother removed from the mother’s home…and unexpected “benefit” to legal preparation. 

Families are messy and long-term illness and death make them messier.  End-of-life planning helps “manage the mess” and Gracious Goodbyes and many other organizations can help as well.  Minimize the mess, avoid disaster...Plan.

Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Families, Advance Medical Directive, Alzheimer's, Power of Attorney, Long-term illness, end-of-life plainning, legal, attorney, Last will and testament


Leave a Comment