Let’s talk: who would you trust to decide whether you live or die? 55

The Tough Stuff


View Profile

To make the most of our lives today, we sometimes need to imagine a less pleasant future.

The knowledge that we won’t be around forever can motivate us to be nicer people. Imagining what we leave behind can encourage us to write a will. But what if you found yourself in a more complicated situation: to be stuck in between life or death?

Today on The Tough Stuff, we’re asking our community to consider one of the scariest futures imaginable: one in which we can’t properly speak for ourselves.

If you found yourself in a coma, or unable to communicate to your full ability, who would you trust to decide on your future?

Many of us would accept that our partners, siblings or children could make an informed choice for us, and act with our best interests at heart.

However, it’s rarely that simple; we find that many families struggle to make a decision and family members often have very different views. While they may ultimately make a choice, they may never be certain it’s actually the right one, unless they hear it from you first.

Even if you have informally made your instructions clear, would they be able to comfortably make a call on your behalf?

Dr. Charlie Corke, founder of MyValues, says this uncertainty is a natural part of being human. “Most of us have live with lots of uncertainty and ambiguity – not just about this”.

Our principles and beliefs can shift over time, changing with the circumstances, and your loved ones may feel obligated to make that call for you. Only a small, core set of values – those closest to our hearts – are likely to remain fixed over time.

“Most of us have some things which we hold to quite firmly, where we won’t compromise”, says Dr. Corke. “These are the things that tend to drive us and which explain the sort of person that we are. This fixed bit is important for families to understand”.

Only by identifying these core values can we comfortably leave a set of instructions our loved ones can follow. Thankfully, this important step has just gotten easier.

MyValues is an online service anyone can freely join. In a few simple steps, you can record your wishes. Should the worst happen, your doctor or loved ones will be able to access these details, lifting the burden of uncertainty.

Do you know who you would trust in this situation? Have you spoken with them about your values? And if not: what is holding you back?

This Let’s Talk discussion is sponsored by MyValues and written by the Starts at 60 editorial team. For more information about this free, invaluable online service, visit the MyValues website.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. We have already made arrangement for this. Our kids have been given the legal rights to make that decision for us if we can’t and they both know that we don’t want quantity of life if there is no quality.

  2. Of course if you found yourself in a coma You would be unable to decide so you need to make it clear to someone to follow your wishes before you got in a coma Hubby and I Have talked about it and decisions made

    4 REPLY
    • Michelle Reynolds, it’s like having insurance. You make arrangements so, if it happens, there is a plan to follow. No use buying insurance after something goes wrong. Really, not rocket science!

    • Its termed an Advance Care Directive (& there are legal forms for this), should you ever be in a position to be unable to make a decision on your care. My hubby & I have discussed this with our 2 adult children as well & they both know what our wishes are on this matter. My 5 older siblings & I went through an extremely harrowing time 4 years ago just before my mother passed away because it had never been discussed. I vowed not to make the same mistake.

  3. My Daughter and Son’s have power of attorney on my behalf because I trust them, and my Daughter has medical power of attorney because as the eldest I know she will discuss it with her Brothers to make the right decision if I’m not able to do so, they know what I want even though they didn’t want to hear it.

  4. Had to ‘pull the plug’ on a family member after an accident. knowing it was the right thing to do, doesn’t make it any easier.

  5. I’m 54, a widow for the past 26 years and don’t have any family here with me. So I know how important this subject is. I have both a living and a dead will, updated POA lodged with my bank and solicitor. I’ve also had a meeting with my Funeral Director, who knows exactly what to do with me and my funeral wishes. My estate is all worked out i.e. who will get what. Because I live alone, both sets of neighbours have keys to my house and know that if they don’t see any signs of ‘life’ i.e windows open, curtains drawn, they are to come over and check on me. I joke with my friends saying now that i’ve put all this in place, i’ll live till i’m 93!!

    1 REPLY
  6. My mum made it clear she was a donor, so when she died (during an operation), they kept her body alive to harvest the organs that improved and saved five lives. My dad and two brothers then went to say goodbye and dad had to “pull the plug” on what, to him, seemed to be a living, breathing person. It was what she wanted but for the next 14 years until he died, he couldn’t get over it…..he felt he had a reason to be guilty.
    I have made it quite clear that if there’s anything worth salvaging from my body, then do it, but once done, the hospital can do the plug pulling. And if possible, to release me to ” the next adventure” as soon as I am unable to live without assistance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *