End of Life Education group to meet twice in June


End of Life Education (ELE) is the name decided on for the meetings and activities presented by a volunteer group of concerned community members who want to complete their lives with the same quality and responsibility as they lived.

The next meetings will be the most important we have had and also the most difficult. 

We will be meeting two consecutive times in June, on Mondays, June 17 and 24, to make certain that the needed paperwork to die is perfectly completed by each person attending. The times will be 1 p.m. and we will be meeting in the library’s large meeting room. Tables will be arranged so everyone will have a work area. If you would like to bring cookies, coffee and tea will be available.

The plan is to use a small booklet available at Pagosa Springs Medical Center and at our meetings, entitled “Your Right to Make Healthcare Decisions.” It was written by the Colorado Hospital Association and presents the topics accepting medical treatment, refusing medical treatment, living wills, resuscitation directives, substitute decision makers and medical guardians. Included in the booklet are three forms: medical power of attorney, living will and CPR directive.

Joan Mieritz may play “boring high school teacher” and have us read the material until someone has a question. We will then pause to discuss it until all issues are addressed and then we will move on. We will do this for each form, which you can fill out in the group or take notes and do a final draft at home to bring back the following Monday. One person has offered to help me by going over the pages related to one of the three forms. I am hoping that others will come early to see the booklet and volunteer to help (or you can pick it up at the medical center). I hope that I never was a boring teacher, so I’m not looking forward to that role, but then I’ve not dealt with the topic of death.

After we have completed this, we can decide if we need a lawyer to speak to the group. Of course, an attorney is necessary to write wills and trusts, but it appears that the Colorado Hospital Association wants everyone, without cost, to be able to have filled out the necessary forms.

If you are not convinced these forms are needed, watch a Netflix presentation called “Extremis.” It tells of people who have not made decisions themselves and have left it up to their families to decide after they are incapacitated. It was an excellent and very real film showing the end of life.

The picture in my mind has been peacefully falling asleep surrounded by my little family. I never considered being surrounded by machines with tubes and cords everywhere. I still have a lot to learn and perhaps some huge decisions to make. I need this group, and if you do also, please feel welcome to join us. This is a difficult topic which seems to go better with fellow humans joining together.

We are trying to figure out the best timing for a presentation on Colorado’s right-to-die law, which will be coming up soon. 

I hope to see you on Monday, June 17, at 1 p.m. at our library.