A week before Roger Ebert died, my colleagues and I gathered for a meeting withDr. Karl Ahlswede, a former cardiac surgeon who stepped away from his practice 2 years ago to start something new. Dr. Karl’s practice is now dedicated to advance care planning, or preparing for the end of life. We hired Dr. Ahlswede to offer his program to our entire staff; to help us each be better prepared for dealing with our own health issues, and for issues facing our families and friends.
Advance care planning might seem like an unusual service for a business to offer it’s employees, but we’re finding that thinking about our own mortality (and the mortality of our families and loved ones) gave us unexpected benefits.
Roger Ebert’s cancer diagnosis in 2002 changed much about his life, but some things didn’t change. He lived publicly, choosing to continue his career as a film reviewer even after he lost his ability to speak in 2006. As he told Chris Jones of Esquire in 2010 (via a blue Post-It note): “There is no need to pity me. Look how happy I am. This has lead to an [explosion] of writing.”