Making Life-and-Death Decisions for Loved Ones

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Being in a position where you have to make life-or-death decisions for a loved one, whether for a person or a pet, can be the most heart-wrenching decision you ever have to make.
I’ve experienced this twice in my life. The first experience involved my mom, and the second involved my beloved pet cat. If you’ve ever faced this, or potentially could someday, I hope you’ll find comfort in what I share about my experiences.

July 3, 2020, was the worst day of my life. My beautiful daughter and only child, Keira, overdosed on fentanyl and left the earth. My world was turned upside down, and I felt like I was living in a nightmare I’d never wake up from.
That afternoon, I visited my 64-year-old mom at the rehab center where she was recovering from back surgery to tell her the devastating news. It was the beginning of Covid-19, and she wasn’t supposed to have any visitors, but the rehab center let me meet her in the lobby for five minutes. Leaving my mom during the worst time of our lives was torture.
That week, the rehab center opened my mom’s window so I could stand outside and talk to her through the window screen. My mom became depressed and withdrawn. On the day of Keira’s funeral, she told me she wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go.
Two days later, my mom was rushed to the emergency room via ambulance and I met her there. I was shocked by how much pain she was in and she was delusional, saying things to me that made no sense. The nurse told me that they were conducting tests to find out what was going on, and later that day, doctors confirmed that my mom had a severe C. Diff infection.

She was admitted to the hospital and administered medications to treat it. The hospital allowed one visitor in her room, and I spent every day at the hospital, praying for her recovery while mourning the death of my only child.
Over the next week, her health declined rapidly, she developed two other infections, and her kidneys were failing. The doctor told me she’d need to go on dialysis to continue the treatment and try to save her, and she’d most likely have to be on dialysis for the rest of her life. My mom wasn’t coherent, and I had to make that decision for her. They advised that if I declined dialysis, she probably wouldn’t live more than twenty-four hours.
My mom struggled with kidney disease for most of her life, and she’d told me that she never wanted to be on dialysis again. As much as I wanted to tell the doctors to keep fighting for her life, I chose to respect her wishes and refused dialysis.
Six days later, my mom transitioned to Spirit, exactly three weeks after my daughter did.
If you’ve had to make life-altering decisions for a loved one, be gentle and compassionate with yourself – it’s not an easy position to be in.
If your loved one communicated their wishes and you acted on them, take comfort in knowing that you honored their wishes. If you’ve had to make decisions without knowing what your loved one’s wishes were, give yourself extra grace, self-care, and compassion, and know that you made the best decision that you could.
If it’s possible you may have to make life-altering decisions for a loved one in the future, talk to them about their wishes and encourage them to put legal documents in place now and share them with you.
Legal documents can include a will, medical directives, power of attorney, bank account beneficiaries, and afterlife wishes (funeral, celebration of life, burial, cremation, etc.). Ensure that these documents meet necessary legal requirements, including notarization and witness signatures if needed. An attorney who specializes in estate planning can help.
If you are in this position now and are struggling with these decisions, I encourage you to consider your loved one’s quality of life and reflect on what you feel your loved one would want.
If you’ve had to make difficult decisions on behalf of a loved one or experienced the transition of a loved one, I encourage you to find whatever support resonates with you.
Although I know that death is not the end, and loved ones in Spirit really are still with us, I still struggled with the darkness of grief after my daughter and mother’s transitions. I had so many unanswered questions and things left unsaid, and the lack of closure haunted me. I tried many common grief support options like counseling, grief groups, and medication, but they did little to help me or made me feel worse. I felt alone, misunderstood, and unsupported.
I discovered that although society doesn’t know how to support the grieving, the Spirit world does. Angels, guides, teachers, Creator (or whatever you call the Higher Power that creates life), and even loved ones on the Other Side are available and want to help you.
I turned to spiritual healing practices and practitioners I’d used in the past to help me recover from corporate burnout, anxiety, and depression, and I found the support I resonated with. I worked with a spiritual healer to help clear and rebalance my energy, an evidential medium to connect with my loved ones on the other side, and a grief coach to help me process and navigate grief. I also used guided meditations and shamanic healing journeys for healing, connection, and guidance.
I encourage you to complete your own legal documents in case your loved ones are ever in a position to have to make decisions on your behalf, so they can honor your wishes with less stress on themselves to have to make them for you. Ensure your loved ones know where to find those documents as well.


Kim Coots is a certified Evidential Medium, Grief Coach, and Spiritual Healer who helps people mend the wounds of grief and connect with loved ones on the Other Side. She provides evidential mediumship readings, grief coaching, and spiritual healing sessions to clients worldwide via Zoom. Visit for more info.



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