There was no subject that was off-limits for the late comedienne Joan Rivers. She even joked about getting older and death. In the months leading up to her passing earlier this month, she would often joke about losing her memory. In a recent tweet she quipped: “I must admit I am nervous about getting Alzheimer’s. Once it hits, I might tell my best joke and never know it.”
Rivers’ ability to shine a humorous light on heavy issues such as aging and death was something nearly everyone could respect about her. But she didn’t just joke about death, she took the necessary steps to prepare for it. Rivers was smart enough to create a living will that granted her daughter the authority to tell doctors to take Rivers off of life support after a surgical procedure went terribly wrong.
At 81-years-old, Rivers knew what she wanted out of life, and she knew that didn’t include being kept alive through artificial intervention. Because Rivers had an end of life plan in place, she was able to pass away with dignity — as she wanted — and avoid any conflict or turmoil that could have resulted among her family and care providers.
No one likes to think about potentially being on their death bed, in a coma or unable to communicate. But it is something that happens every day in Massachusetts and the rest of the country. If this did happen to you, wouldn’t you want your wishes to be known? Wouldn’t you want to make the decision easier on your family?
Under the law, even spouses or children are not automatically allowed to make decision to end life support or keep it going without a guardianship proceeding. A definite and immediate decision can only be made according to a pre-existing end of life plan.
“I ain’t afraid of death,” Rivers once told “Time Magazine.” Maybe that was, in part, because she was prepared for it.
Source: Forbes, “Joan Rivers Can Help With Difficult End-Of-Life Conversations,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, Sept. 10, 2014