Supporting Someone You Love with a Chronic or Terminal Illness

By Roz Jones

There are times when we have to step up to the plate and do some very hard things. Few things are harder than supporting someone with a chronic or terminal illness. Though difficult, it’s an honor to be a support to someone as they walk out their final life experiences. 

Supporting someone you love with a chronic or terminal illness won’t have a playbook. There isn’t a step-by-step manual listing out where to walk, what to say, and how to be. You’re going to figure things out as you go but even though there aren’t any specific rules, there are some common practices that will make things a bit more comfortable. 

Get used to being uncomfortable- The sooner you can open up to the fact things are going to be uncomfortable, the sooner you can be open to managing whatever happens. Having a “whatever it takes” attitude and letting your loved one know you are there regardless of how uncomfortable things may be will help them focus on their own needs rather than worrying about yours. 

Ask- It’s that simple. Ask how you can help, when you can help, and if you can help. Your job is to offer and their job is to allow you in or set a safe boundary to keep you on the ready if they are not up for company or assistance. 

Listen- Lots of support comes from simply being there and listening. People are do-ers and in their doing, feel like they are making a difference. Sometimes there is nothing to be done but to sit in companionship and offer your support.  

Meet people wherever they are emotionally- You can expect a wide range of emotions as your loved one comes to terms with their situation. You may see every emotion on any given day. From denial and anger to resignation or peace. Try to meet your loved one where they are and engage with them in a peaceful and loving way. 

Learn from the journey- Though we don’t all know when our time will come to die; we can be assured it is coming. Going through an end-of-life experience with someone else can help you better prepare for your own experience. Learn from them and decide for yourself what matters to you when you think about your own end-of-life needs. How you want your medical care, financial care, and family to care for you.  


Supporting someone you love with a chronic illness will bring out the best you have to offer. It is an honor and a privilege to support someone as they navigate the final days of their lives. Don’t put too much pressure on performance. Be compassionate and caring and the rest will fall into place. 

Why Wait to Experience Your Bucket List?

The term bucket list refers to experiences someone would like to have before they pass away or kick the bucket. Glorified in movies, generally a bucket list is completed by terminally ill people who are painfully aware of the fragility and short period of time we are alive. Most folks wander in a haze of work and family, putting things they would love to do off for a magical time when they will have:

  • More money
  • More time
  • More freedom
  • More opportunities 

They are blissfully unaware of the realities that there is no guarantee that you will live outside of this very moment– in an instant it might be over. 

Why wait to experience your bucket list? There’s no time like right now to live as if you were dying because the fact is… we are all dying from the moment we are born. 

What’s on your bucket list? 

Your bucket list should include the things- both great and small– that matter to you and your personal interests. Here are some prompts to get you stared: 

  • Places you want to see
  • Experiences you want to have
  • People you want to meet
  • Foods you want to try
  • Activities you want to engage in
  • People you want to impact
  • Ways you want to make a difference

Wow, that’s a hefty list right there. 

What would it take to check things off your list? 

Your bucket list should be a mixture of things you could do easily if you took the time and made them a priority co-mingled with things you want to do that take effort, planning, and stretch you. What would it take to accomplish some of the things off your list? How about these ideas: 

  • Research an activity or interest 
  • Start a bucket list Pinterest board
  • Start a savings account or envelope for a bucket list experience
  • Join a group or club doing an activity on your list
  • Make a reservation and set a date for an adventure
  • Take action and simply dive in

It doesn’t take a whole lot more than intention to get started experiencing the things you want to be, do, see, and have before you die. 

Life is fleeting so it doesn’t make sense to put off until tomorrow all the fun you could be having today! Create and experience your bucket list early on and don’t wait for the future to enjoy life’s opportunities. 

Protecting Your Religious Beliefs During an Illness, Accident, or Death

By Roz Jones

If you have an emergency resulting in medical attention, there is a chance your religious beliefs could collide with conventional medical treatment. For a range of reasons, your beliefs may not jive with the prescribed treatment for an illness or injury. 

Protecting your religious beliefs ahead of time will make an impact on your life should you have an illness, accident, or die. It’s important for you to convey them to your medical team or somehow alert them to be cautious of your beliefs. 

There are many ways to make sure your religious beliefs are carried out and honored. Here is a list of actions you can consider to protect your beliefs: 

Use an advance directive: Your advance directive can detail any limitations or specific needs you have based on your religion and religious practices including refusing treatments when they do not match your religious practices.   

Wear an alert bracelet: Sometimes people wear jewelry that indicates their religion or preferences in case they are unable to speak on their own behalf. 

Make pre-planned funeral arrangements: You can protect your religious beliefs and customs by pre-planning the care of your body after you die. Some religions have very specific rites of passage that can be protected by a mortuary that understands your beliefs and can carry them out on your behalf. 

Choose providers based on their beliefs: From personal care physicians to hospitals, rehab centers, and assisted living facilities, many are faith-based. Choose providers that already share your beliefs for an easier time. If you do not have access to a provider in your same faith, connect with their social services department to open a discussion about your needs. 

Designate an advocate: You may need an advocate to speak with staff and educate or hold them to your standards for religious boundaries. A clergy member or elder staff member at your church might be a great advocate for your care needs. 

Did you know? There are protections for staff from engaging in practices that go against their religious beliefs as well. Be sure your needs are covered wherever you receive care. Some faith-based hospitals, care homes, or providers may be protected against performing procedures that are against their belief systems too. 

Religious beliefs play a large role in treatment and after-death management of your remains. Be sure to educate others about any limitations or boundaries you have based on your faith and help ensure your rights are protected and respected. 

Funeral Planning Doesn’t Have to be Creepy

By Roz Jones

In many cultures, funerals are a joyous occasion. Sure, it’s sad to lose someone you love and depending on the circumstances, it might be more intense, but funerals are a celebration of life as well as an opportunity to say goodbye. 

Funeral planning doesn’t have to be creepy. People don’t have to dress in black and cry the whole time. Funerals should be a reflection on the life of the person who has passed and an honorable yet celebratory, way to remember them. 

Here are some non-creepy ways to plan a funeral:

Create a slide show or video- Gather an assortment of pictures, video clips, and other images put to music for an entertaining and positive way to celebrate life. Life is all about making memories and those memories become more precious after someone dies. 

Share stories that are funny- There’s nothing wrong with laughing during a funeral. Encourage guests to share funny stories that everyone can enjoy during the service. Making things lighter in the room can offset the heaviness of the occasion. 

Create a theme for the funeral- Families have themes for all sorts of gatherings, why not for a funeral? If your loved one adored something specific, make it part of their funeral. Celebrating something a deceased person loved is another way of honoring how they lived. If your loved one loved boats, racecars, or the color purple – incorporate their love into the celebration of life. 

Give back in their honor- A funeral for a teacher included bringing backpacks filled with school supplies in lieu of flowers. A funeral for a child who dies of kidney disease included friends and family registering to be donors for other children in their honor. It’s always a good thing to do something to help ease grief and loss. Giving people something to focus on can make attending a funeral easier. 

Leave a message for those you love- Your funeral can be special by leaving a video, letter, or recording sharing how much you love and appreciate them. Not everyone knows when they are going to pass on but sometimes there is a general idea. Your messages can soften the blow and make the funeral an opportunity to share your thoughts, hopes, and dreams for the people attending in your honor. 

Funeral planning isn’t something people usually think about until it happens. When emotions are running high, it can make planning hard. There are no rules for a funeral but there certainly isn’t a rule that they must be heavy and burdensome. Funeral planning doesn’t have to be creepy. It can be free and easy like the life you are ready to celebrate. 

Key Professionals Who Help Make Important Choices About Your Future

By Roz Jones

Your estate and everything in it is yours to make decisions about. You can decide to do whatever you want with your assets while you are alive and after your death as long as you are of sound mind in doing so. 

Wanting to protect your assets is normal and wanting to make sure you make good decisions is wise. You may not have the background or working knowledge about how to protect yourself legally, financially, and medically but there are experts who do. Their job is to offer you information and services that organize and carry out your wishes, making it possible for you to protect yourself as you grow older. 

Here are some key professionals who help make important choices about your future.

Financial Planners: As early as possible in your work life, it’s great to work with a financial planner who can help you best understand how income, taxes, investments, and savings all work together. A financial planner knows the current laws, what products produce the best results, and how to invest and save your money for whatever long-term plans you have. 

Insurance Agents: Like financial planners, insurance agents can help you save and protect your assets for the future. From insuring your car, home, and personal property to helping with life insurance and other forms of insurance that generate death benefits, or other income. An agent can help increase your income after you retire or in the event of a catastrophic life event. 

Primary Care Physicians: Outside of being the go-to for your healthcare, your primary care physician can help you create and carry out your advance directive and DNR notifications. Having someone to talk to with a wide-range of medical knowledge can help you sort through the options and make decisions that will protect you if/when there is a medical need. 

Probate Attorneys: There are attorneys who specialize in writing wills, trusts, and helping people make important decisions about their estate. These attorneys have streamlined ways to help you organize your information and legally protect your estate before and after your death. 

You don’t have to know all there is to know about medicine, money, and the law to protect yourself. You can access professionals who specialize in each of these areas and make informed decisions you can trust and count on when you need them most.

2 Legal Documents Everyone Needs Before They get Sick

By Roz Jones

Being ill is no fun. Neither is being unable to participate in making personal medical decisions. If you are unconscious or unable to articulate your consent for treatment, a medical provider or next of kin may have to make them for you. Preserving life is always the plan, but sometimes, believe it or not, you may not want that to be the plan. 

Here are a few scenarios where life-saving measures might not be your first choice: 

Scenario #1. A terminally ill patient with a disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s may not want to be fed through a tube or given antibiotics after a certain stage of their disease. 

Scenario #2. A brain-damaged individual who will have to live indefinitely outside of their home in a facility may not want to be on a breathing tube or dialysis or other artificial life-saving machines. 


Scenario #3. Someone with a pacemaker or other device may want it removed if their condition worsens to a certain point. 

Under certain circumstances, life-saving measures make perfect sense. When recovery is likely and quality of life is high, it is worth the effort and time it takes to recover or endure life-saving measures. However, there may be times or circumstances when you want to draw a line in the medical sand. 


There are two legal documents that will make it clear to providers and your family that you do not want measures taken and if you do, what they are and when they stop. 

An advance directive 

A DNR or Do Not Resuscitate 

An Advance Directive: An Advance Directive is a tool used to make end-of-life decisions ahead of time, alleviating medical staff and your family from having to make them. Your Advance Directive is a legal document that you can add to your will or trust so it is easily accessible if it needs to be enforced. 

A DNR or Do Not Resuscitate is a document that denies life-saving measures if your heart stops beating or you are unable to breath on your own. 

These documents will help you prevent life-saving measures that might prolong suffering or low-quality living. Consult your primary care physician to learn more and make the decisions that are right for you. 

Do You Have a Will or Trust to Protect Your Assets?

Most people know what a will is. It’s a written document that disperses your assets and provides a care plan for your dependents after you die. Not everyone knows what a trust is or how important both are for your family. 

Generally speaking, a will is a document that goes into effect after you die, while a trust is in effect while you are alive and includes directives about your assets and the guardianship of minor children. Having a will and/or trust makes your wishes clear and legally makes them binding. Without a will or trust, things get tricky. 

What happens if you have a will or trust? 

  • There are specific guidelines for the disbursement of your assets and the care of your minor children in the event of your death
  • An executor of your choice is designated to oversee your estate and carry out your wishes
  • The time frame for disbursement of your assets and action plan are swift
  • Your wishes are legally binding and generally can’t be overturned 
  • Accounts can be managed and paid even after you die 

What happens if you do not have a will or trust? 

  • Your assets are held while the courts sort out disbursement
  • Someone else may have to incur costs to settle your estate 
  • Your wishes may not be fully known or preserved 
  • You can lose assets that aren’t protected 
  • Your children will not be protected for their care and custody
  • Long periods of time may go by before your estate is settled

A will or trust can help make certain your wishes are carried out and that you don’t lose any assets that are part of your estate. 

Creating a will or trust 

There are a few ways to create a will or trust. A will can be created on your own. There are no-cost and low-cost ways to create a will. There are services that can walk you through the process of creating a will if your estate is modest and you don’t have a lot to manage. 

Note: Writing a will isn’t as simple as sitting down with a Word doc. Once you’ve completed your will, it will need to be accompanied by a Self Proving Affidavit that is notarized. This legally ensures you are the author of your will and makes it easier for your family to enforce after your death.  

The most secure way to create a will or trust is through an attorney. Probate and estate-planning attorneys can help you craft a will or trust that will be recognized by your state in the event of your death and make things easy on your family and beneficiaries.