My Mortality Club met recently after a three-year hiatus. The break in what was supposed to be our annual gathering was created by the pandemic. Living is a tricky business.
Deep into my memoir, It's Hard Being You, I mention having formed the Mortality Club. (I buried it there because, frankly, I figured it was the last thing my kids wanted to hear from me.)
But three of my close friends and I were looking to talk about how we wanted our lives to end if we weren't able to actually participate in the decision-making. We didn't want our loved ones to be saddled with the agony of not knowing what we wanted.
I know that creeps out a lot of people. But having an advance directive (we used Five Wishes), or at least talking about making such a plan, has actually been pretty comforting.
As detailed in an article I wrote for Lifestyles After 50 magazine, we Mortals are tackling some big issues:
- Who do I want making care decisions for me when I can't?
- What medical treatment do I want? And what don't I want?
- How much pain am I willing to handle to remain conscious of those around me?
Titled “A Lively Talk About the End of Life,” the article notes the yin and yang of the meeting with these details: We brought a Nerf gun, so we could effectively silence anyone who was droning on, and a box of Kleenex for, well, you can guess.
Oh, and there was wine.
Our ideas about the end of life changed a lot over the last three years. (COVID seems to have improved how doctors use ventilators, for instance, which got some of us rethinking their value.) So we've again committed to annual meetings.
The hardest part has been casting a clear eye on the fact that our bodies are designed to fail – that's the way this life works. Our wellness-obsessed society tends to focus on keeping the “machine” well-oiled to prevent breakdowns. Which is good, to a point. Trouble is we tend to think we can prevent breakdowns indefinitely.
But that's not among the options available.
All hail mortality. We're ready.