The following letters are from participants and facilitators of Honoring Choices® Idaho:

Joe’s Story:

As a 52 year old Type 1 Juvenile Diabetic, I always knew that having advanced care directives in place was a reality I needed to deal with, not just for my own wishes to be fulfilled, but also out of love and concern for my wife and other important people in my life. I suppose the reason I never took care of it is the same reason most people avoid or put it off doing so meant facing my own mortality, and having to share those feelings and fears with a complete stranger, or even worse, in front of my loving wife. As a man, I can think of nothing that would make me feel more vulnerable than having my wife see this weakness in me.

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After having a stent placed in my heart last November, reality came calling. I knew I could no longer avoid my issues with mortality because avoiding those issues would affect not just me but also my loved ones. Even though I was still trying to avoid this reality, the St. Luke's Cardiac Rehab, in a shameless maneuver, had a Social Worker named Audrey address our group and encourage us to complete our advanced directives.

When my wife and I showed up for our advanced directives planning appointment, I actually had a feeling of relief even before the meeting began. I think it came from knowing that I was finally doing the responsible thing and facing my fears head on. When Audrey stepped out of her office to greet us, she had a big smile on her face which put my wife and me both at ease. Throughout our meeting, Audrey was friendly and just matter of fact with her questions and how she explained what they meant in plain English. I am so incredibly grateful to her and all of the great, caring staff at St. Luke's hospital. Now that I have completed my advanced directives, I wake up every morning knowing I no longer have this big unresolved issue flapping in my face. I don't know if they call that closure, or what it is. What I do know is that I'm very glad that Audrey was so persistent and diligent in the discharge of her service to patients--I being the luckiest among them.

Hillary’s Story:

SL Home Care SW, Janie met my parents, my husband, and myself at my parents’ home in Meridian to help my parents with Advance Care Planning. They had previously completed their Living Will with the guidance from other medical personnel, but after some review and discussion, it was determined that my parents did not have a clear understanding of the choices they had made on their forms. Janie proceeded to explain each option with easily understandable scenarios. As a result, changes were made to their Living Wills and my parents, and my husband and I felt very confident that we fully understood their wishes.

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In addition, my husband, with Janie's assistance, also filled out his Living Will after seeing how easy it was.

The experience of documenting one's end-of-life wishes could be depressing and could even cause stress among family members, but this was not the case with my family. Thanks to Janie's knowledge, patience, and gentle way of speaking with my parents, we all felt very positive about completing these forms. We were able to discuss our individual wishes as a family, with love and understanding. Janie gave my parents as much time as they needed to understand the decisions they were making.

It is my belief that if more people could receive the same guidance that Janie provided my family, they might be less apprehensive about having these discussions. Thank you, this was a blessing in our lives.

ACP Facilitator: Anna Wallace’s Story: 

When it comes to advanced care planning, I have gone from “checking the box” and having the patient independently complete the paperwork to really understanding the importance of having these decisions made and documented. In the room where the conversations about quality of life and what people really feel/know about their experiences with death are held, there is an emotional “thing” that takes place. The patients and health care agents have sort of an “A-Ha” moment as they talk with me and as we really explore what that means to them. The conversation and the completion of the document seems to give them a sense of peace. As a facilitator you learn to use the tools to help the patient explore their values, wishes and beliefs. After a while the conversations just flow. Honoring Choices Idaho has empowered me to not be afraid of the conversation, but to embrace it!