When John experienced a sudden medical emergency, the situation became a fast wake-up call for him and his family. Living alone and with his children residing around the country, he found himself alone when the crisis struck. In the crucial initial hours following his emergency, John was unable to communicate effectively with his medical team due to his condition, and his children were thousands of miles away. The hospital tried his emergency contact but found out that he had his wife listed and she had passed away earlier in the year. Without an established healthcare proxy or advance directive in place, the doctors were left to make immediate and consequential decisions regarding his treatment without clear insight into his personal preferences or values. It was a few days before his children found out what had happened when they requested a well check after being unable to reach him at his home. The police had the record of the ambulance having to take him to the hospital. His children found themselves scrambling to catch flights, all the while grappling with a feeling of helplessness and deep concern for their father’s well-being while organizing everything that needed to be arranged at home, before leaving.

The experience was scary for John’s children and as they sat in his hospital room after their rushed cross-country trip, they discussed the “what ifs” of their father’s situation. They wished they had talked as a family about medical and end-of-life decisions while their dad was in good health. They were painfully aware that, if their father had assigned a healthcare proxy or completed an advance healthcare directive, this challenging time would have been at least somewhat mitigated. This reality ignited in them a resolve to have these important conversations and put necessary documents in place as soon as possible, not just for their father’s sake, but for their own futures as well.

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