The Sunset Journal
How do you start difficult conversations about the end of life? Did you talk about death in your family? Perhaps you haven't lost anyone close to you, or you haven't been to many funerals - what are your thoughts about the end of life?
Sometimes it's best to prepare for difficult conversations. One way to do that is to ask yourself the same questions you want to ask an aging parent. What are you feeling when you answer those questions? How might you change how, when, where, and with whom you ask such deeply personal questions?
We can’t control the sunset!
What exact time it will occur? What it will look like or what colors appear to us? We can have some control on how much intention we have for witnessing the sunset, who we hope to have with us, and even over how we approach and envision our own “sunset” or the “sunset” of ones we love.
I continue to research trends in the Sandwich Generation, to develop practical strategies for caregivers, families, and seniors. I also continue to collect sunsets. I ask my friends to send me pictures of sunsets, I look for them myself, and I enjoy sharing them. So here are some spectacular sunsets along with some journal prompts!
If you have taken some beautiful pictures of sunsets and have some thoughts to share about caregiving, please send them to me and I will evaluate them for posting! Send them to [email protected]
by Suzy Kassem
Each day is born with a sunrise
and ends in a sunset, the same way we
open our eyes to see the light,
and close them to hear the dark.
You have no control over
how your story begins or ends.
But by now, you should know that
all things have an ending.
Every spark returns to darkness.
Every sound returns to silence.
And every flower returns to sleep
with the earth.
The journey of the sun
and moon is predictable.
is your ultimate
Below you will find some amazing photos of sunsets along with some prompts or resources that can help you:
- Reflect on your own emotions, thoughts, concerns, fears, worries, and hopes for this time while you care for aging parents – Journaling can help you think through your thoughts and emotions and can give you time to “practice” how to broach a subject
- Consider how to get the conversation started – maybe more than once! Often we have to revisit these conversations, so don’t be discouraged if the first time you try, you are shut down. That is normal and natural.
- Meditate on intention – what feelings do you want to generate in yourself so you can move through this tough time? Visualization is a strong catalyst for intention
Consider talking to an aging parent about their wishes for the end of life.
Here is an article from Next Avenue that discusses “end-of-life” questions with Atul Gawande, M.D. https://www.nextavenue.org/atul-gawandes-5-questions-ask-lifes-end/
Five Wishes – Do you have specific wishes for the end of life? Have you shared them with anyone? I suggest looking at Five Wishes. This organization has a practical resource for end-of-life conversations and documentation that is legally recognized in most states if completed as directed. The directions are very clear, as well, which I like!
Which direction are you headed at this time?
Prompt: What are your goals for your own personal sunset? Is there anything you still want to do? Any people you want to see? Tasks you want to accomplish? How can you make those happen?
Are there important decisions you need to make?
Prompt: Do you have specific wishes about your estate or any specific items? Do you need help making decisions or getting affairs in order? Whose help do you require and how might you get the support you need?
Imagine this walk down the beach in the sand.
Prompt: Consider the feelings you might have as you imagine walking along this beach. Who might you like to have alongside you down this path to help you along? What do you want that person or persons to feel? What do you need from them? What conversations might you need to have with those folks now for that feeling to happen?
Who are the people closest to your heart?
Prompt: Do the people you hold close in your heart know what you wish for? How might you tell them? Are there broken family ties? What needs to happen for broken hearts to mend? How could you start those conversations?