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Life Affirming Conversations

End of life conversations can be intimidating and difficult, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  In changing our perspective, we realize that in fact these are conversations that result in life affirming decisions.  By writing down our preferences, we control our right to choose what happens at the end.  Engaging in these conversations and decisions is an act of love, as you are ensuring that your family does not have to guess what you want when you are no longer in a position to communicate.  Making a plan, and engaging your family in it as you know best, will go far in reducing stress and anxiety when your loved ones have to make decisions that impact you.

So what kind of decisions?

Well, who will be your Medical Power of Attorney and/or your Statutory Durable Power of Attorney?  Have you created an Advanced Directive or an Out-of-Hospital DNR?  If you are not comfortable starting these conversations with your family, then you have another option – in 2016 Medicare approved payment for end of life conversations with your physician. Or, you can use the opportunity of holidays and evening dinners to organically start the conversation with your family by just asking what they envision taking place for themselves at the end of their life.

The same holds true with your wishes regarding your funeral.  Your Power of Attorney expires upon death.  Who will you appoint your Agent of Disposition?  Do you prefer cremation or burial?  These are also important discussions in which to involve your family.  Moreover, you can visit your preferred Funeral Home to document and/or prepay for your chosen services.

While you are alive and healthy, you get to make these choices.  Others can provide input, but it is ultimately your choice.  And by proactively making end of life decisions, you are affirming your life decisions and reducing the stress and anxiety that comes when family members do not know their loved ones preferences.

Tools to Help Document and Preserve Family Stories

With the apps and technology that exist today, it’s now easier than ever to record, remember, and memorialize your loved one’s life.

StoryWorth

StoryWorth is an award-winning tool for capturing the important details about a family’s history. You start by signing up and inviting other family members to join. Each week, StoryWorth will email a question or a writing prompt.

 

Some sample prompts include:

  • How did you get your first job?
  • What were your favorite toys as a child?
  • What is one of your favorite children’s stories?
  • Did you have a favorite teacher in middle school? What made them great?
  • What have you changed your mind about over the years?

The family members then respond to the prompt. Their story is shared with other family members who also have signed up. After a year of weekly stories, StoryWorth takes the responses and creates a personalized keepsake book. It’s a perfect way to capture the stories that most family members might never hear about.

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is a mobile app that makes capturing memories easy. It also works without an internet connection, so you’re able to capture memories anywhere. The app has four main features — photos, stories, audio capture, and a family tree. You can snap a quick photo of important events, such as graduations, recitals, or a wedding and upload them to the app. FamilySearch then lets you write or voice-record descriptive stories about each photo and tag other family members.

 

The best part is that your memories are stored for free permanently in the FamilySearch vaults. The app also allows you to easily share your created memories on other social media networks such as Facebook or Instagram.

HistoryLines

HistoryLines is an app that helps you visualize your family’s past and puts it into a historical context. The app lets you start by uploading the stories, photographs, and memories of your ancestors. It then shows you an interactive timeline of important events surrounding the years of a family member’s life. It also includes an interactive map to show where they might have migrated from, as well as the culture of the society they lived in.

Twile

Twile is another tool that allows you to build your own family tree and timeline. You start by adding the details about your relatives to create a digital family tree. The app then instantly creates an interactive timeline from the family tree. From there, you can add and edit important special moments, such as births and weddings. The app lets you create a detailed timeline by letting you write your own story about each important event, as well as attaching an unlimited number of photos to each event.

 

Once you’re done creating your timeline, you can share it with relatives and encourage them to share their own memories.

Kindeo

Kindeo is a private social network. Think of it as a family-only Facebook. It lets you privately share stories, memories, and personal reflections with your close family members. It’s designed to be intuitive, so it’s easy to use for grandparents and grandkids alike.

TapGenes

TapGenes is a little different than the other tools on our list. It’s primarily focused on capturing and preserving information about family members’ health. The goal is to help assess health risk factors, create an outlook on future health, and help show how family members relate to one another on a genetic level. According to the TapGenes website, we all “inherit more than just culture, values, and looks from your family; you can also inherit genes that increase your chances of developing certain diseases. Knowing about conditions that run in your family can help you make healthy choices to prevent or lower your disease risk.”