Make Your Most Important Journey What You Want It To Be

Thomas Johnson-Medland

We spend a lot of time planning trips and gathering all of the supplies that we need for the journey and the discoveries along the way.  We pick a place to go, how long we will stay, how we will dress, what accoutrements we will need, who will bring the camera and the sunscreen, the bug spray and the travelers cheques. We even make checklists and menus to make sure that we can be free of worry and detail as the
day approaches.

Developing and using an “Advanced Directive” document and/or “The Five Wishes” ( to plan for how you would want people to take care of you toward the end of your life, and specific, concrete decisions you would want them to make for you concerning your care in the event that you would not be able to communicate your wishes, is essential.  The website above can provide you with a simple document to fill out and then place in the hands of your doctor, clergy, family representative, and even funeral home.

You will answer specific questions about things like feeding tubes and extreme measures, but also about what kind of music you may want playing in your room, or if there should be silence or conversation.

Thinking about these things does not necessarily turn out to be depressing — as one may think.  It is actually a healthy exercise in coming to terms with our own mortality.  Many people gain a renewed sense of purpose and focus — almost invigorated by the process.

Preparing for the end of our life is more critical than any other journey we have made in our life.  One more thing we can do to prepare for the end of our lives is to do early funeral planning. 

It is equally important for folks to think about where they want to be buried, how, and who should prepare your service and lead the ceremony?  What readings do you want and what songs? 

What is so important in this type of planning is selecting a funeral home and then sitting down and writing out specific wishes and working (preparing a document here as well) with at least one family member to share your desires.  This will help there to be an understanding of your document and exactly what it is you would like. 

Get both documents into the hands of someone that knows you well.

Don’t put this off.  Many people say they have plenty of time.  In fact, we do not know how long we have to plan so planning early is critical.  Call us at Lighthouse if you have any needs in planning; we are here to help.

Thomas Johnson-Medland is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Lighthouse Hospice Inc. located in Cherry Hill, NJ. As the CIO, Tom works toward aligning Lighthouse Hospice’s core values and culture with their growth as an organization and healthcare provider. Hardwiring excellence and quality into every aspect of Lighthouse Hospice is his primary goal. Tom began hospice work in 1996 as a Pastoral Care Coordinator. He has served as a community educator, hospice representative, and Director of Project Development and IT for Lighthouse Hospice. He enjoys writing and has published a total of eight books and over 30 articles on end-of-life care. He is a frequent presenter at local, regional and national conferences and serves as a member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council and the Project Management Institute. For more information, contact Lighthouse Hospice at 1-888-HOSPICE or visit

As seen in Camden County Woman and Burlington County Woman


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