Avoiding Decision Fatigue at the Worst Possible Time

Avoiding Decision Fatigue at the Worst Possible Time

Protect your family from decision fatigue when they are most vulnerable.

By 5 pm, I was wiped out. My day had been filled with making decision after decision. Maybe you’ve had a day like that recently. When I stopped at the grocery store after an afternoon meeting, I stood in front of the meat counter with a blank stare. I couldn’t decide what to prepare for dinner. My decision-making ability was on empty.

Decision Fatigue

As a solopreneur, decision fatigue is common. I have no one else to delegate to or brainstorm with. Sure, I can call a friend or colleague, but that’s not the same. No one shares the decision-making responsibility with me.

At times, that is a joy. When my energy is strong, I relish the choices. However, when I’m stressed or tired, it is a slog.

No time is more overwhelming, stressful or exhausting than the hours surrounding the death of a loved one.

Research shows that family members are faced with 50 to 60 decisions during the time before and after a loved one’s passing—end-of-life treatment decisions, disposition of the body, funeral planning, financial decisions and more. Families are confronted with decision fatigue at their most vulnerable time.

“I don’t want to be a burden.”

That phrase is a sweet sentiment I hear often in my work. Sadly, I think many people use those words as an excuse to avoid preparing for the late-life and end-of-life realities most adults will eventually face.

Of course there may be circumstances you cannot control. However, you can take charge of the decisions you know your family will one day face. Proactively describing your end-of-life preferences can spare those you love from undue decision fatigue and painful conflict. Don’t leave your family guessing or arguing over the choices that will be required.

Imagine the relief your family would feel if your preferences were clearly defined in writing, related to the myriad decisions regarding your end-of-life journey. What if all of those choices were clear—instead of your loved ones having to agonize over treatment choices, funeral planning, what to do with your home, etc.? They could be free from the angst, exhaustion and even anger of confronting decision after decision in the absence of your instructions.

Recently I met Jim for coffee. He shared the anguish of his role as executor for his father’s estate. For the past six months, he’s been consumed with unraveling all kinds messes his father left behind. And he was still suffering from the guilt of wondering if he’d left his father on life-support for too long.

His words made my heart ache. “I’m so angry with my dad for all that he dumped in my lap. I can hardly recall any of the good memories from his life. They’ve been drowned out by my frustration and exhaustion.”

The most loving thing each of us can do for our family is to allow them to grieve our passing unencumbered by all the necessary decisions that you could have made in advance. Click to tweet.

I won’t leave my husband or my children to clean up after me. That’s simply not fair. More importantly, I believe it is selfish. Whenever my time comes, my wishes for healthcare treatment and the decisions required after my passing will be clear for my family.

I recently purchased two important books so I can be sure I’ve done all within my power to make decisions in advance. There are many more, but here are the two I selected:

When Someone Dies: The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death

ABA/AARP Checklist for Family Survivors: A Guide to Practical and Legal Matters When Someone You Love Dies

And here is a checklist I found that offers a good start (produced by AARP).

Leaving this world gently can be part of your lasting legacy. Avoid decision fatigue for your family. Instead of being a burden, you will be a blessing. Your loved ones will be free to relish the beautiful memories of your life.

If you are ready to take the important step of writing your healthcare directive, I invite you to attend a powerful workshop on March 5th. You can learn more about it by clicking here.

QUESTION: Have you experienced decision fatigue during the days before and after a loved one’s passing? If you are willing, please share your experience by writing a comment below.


Will your loved ones have the right answers in an emergency?

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