Our family was devastated to hear the tumor in his neck was terminal and aggressive. Our father was given less than a year to live. He spent the next nine months fighting for his life. At his final check-up, he was given no more than two weeks to get his affairs in order. We didn’t know where to begin. His only request was, “When the time comes, please don’t leave me alone.”

Unfortunately, we did not discuss his final wishes. On Sunday morning, he woke up and had difficulty breathing. We called the ambulance because we didn’t know what else to do. He died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital but was revived before his arrival. When he arrived, he lay, unconscious and incoherent. Once his breathing was stabilized, he was moved into the ICU. There he would pass alone, scared and among strangers. He did not make it 24 hours.

I am now advocating for individuals to educate themselves and share their end of life choices with their family. Please take a moment and review the information that is available to you on: https://compassionandchoices.org/end-of-life-planning/learn/understanding-medical-aid-dying/

Be brave and have that uncomfortable conversation with yourself and your loved ones.

Esther Grachan, Oak Park

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