Just Close My Eyes and Go To Sleep: Guest Blog by Barbara Karnes RN

This post was written for LastingMatters by Barbara Karnes RN, an award-winning End of Life Educator who wrote "The Hospice Bluebook", Gone From My Sight.

Just Close My Eyes and Go To Sleep

What do we want our last experience to be?  We have the power to direct it, yet most of us don't use it.

Most people when asked about how they would like to die will say “I just want to close my eyes and not wake up”. Actually, that is how people die. They sleep more and eventually don’t wake up. But what I think people mean by that statement is that they don’t want to go through the agony of disease, pain, and months of dying.

We can’t see ourselves as being dead. Other people die, “not me or anyone close to me” is what we think about end of life. Also, if I think about my death or dying then that means I will die. Maybe it is a premonition, maybe thinking about it will make it happen! We have all sorts of fears around dying and death so we keep thoughts of end of life at bay. We are like ostriches burying their heads in the sand thinking no one will see them; we don’t address end-of-life issues.

We think death will not happen to us and so often we don’t plan for it or make our wishes and directives known.

What will happen to us if we don’t outline how we want our dying experience to be is that we will probably die in a hospital, with broken ribs from having our heart stop and CPR given, on a ventilator breathing for us, our body probably non responsive to what is going on around and about us, food being given to us through a tube in our stomach or an IV in our arm, a catheter in our bladder and someone cleaning our behind---not a pretty picture. And not how most of us want to envision the end of our life.

If doctors can fix my ailing body, can return me to some semblance of activity and quality, then by all means lets try… BUT don’t get me to the place I described above.

That is why I have filled out The LastingMatters Organizer, a comprehensive, easy to use guide that helped me organize all of my personal information and intentions. I want my wishes articulated and known.

With an Advance Directive, if my body can’t be fixed, I want to go home to my bedroom, with my cats on my own bed, my family coming and going, the activities of living all around me until I just close my eyes and don’t wake up.

Barbara Karnes RN

Award-winning End of Life Educator and Nurse, International Humanitarian Women of the Year 2015, and author of Gone From My Sight - observed from the bedside, written in non-medical language for families, her booklet changed the way we experience the death of a loved one. Knowledge reduces fear. www.bkbooks.com