Understanding death and dying terminology

Understanding death and dying terminology is important if you want to empower yourself to make the right choices and be able to express those choices to your medical team, those advocating for you when you no longer can and when talking with your loved ones. I’ve created a glossary of these terms that provide more detailed information on this death and dying terminology you need to understand. The Rest Easy Kit includes this information as a bonus.

Let me start by saying that I am not a legal expert – I am someone just like you who is trying to make their way through the maze, so I always encourage you to do your own research.

So here are a few examples of death and dying terminology to start you off.

Understanding the difference between a Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney

You appoint a Power of Attorney when you want someone to oversee your financial affairs (pay bills, withdraw or move money around etc.) for a distinct period of time. For example, you may be travelling overseas for a few months and want someone to take care of your financial affairs while you are away.

When you appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney, you are handing over your financial affairs to that person (or persons) for the rest of your natural life. You would appoint this person to act on your behalf usually when you lose the capacity to make your own financial decisions.

Both of these are very big decisions to make, and I would recommend you talk to your lawyer and/or financial advisor before taking this step.

Understanding the difference between an Enduring Guardian and a Person Responsible

An Enduring Guardian is a stand-alone legal document you have made up by a lawyer to appoint someone to act on your behalf and make all decisions around what health and lifestyle actions are to be taken when you no longer have the capacity to make those decisions or action your choices. (For example,  actioning your end-of-life medical are plan, deciding when is the best time to move you to an aged care facility, hospice or hospital.)

A Person Responsible is written into an Advance Care Directive and is someone you allocate to advocate for you regarding your end-of-life care and medical choices when you no longer have capacity to do so. You don’t need both an Enduring Guardian AND a Person Responsible, for they do the same role. You do not need to get you Advance Care Directive drawn up by your lawyer, but you do need your Personal Responsible to sign it with you in front of an independent witness to vouch for your capacity to make decisions at the time of signing.

Important tip: You have a Person Responsible or an Enduring Guardian, and you can have more than one I recommend you find out more about these two roles before you make any decisions about appointing someone.

All sound confusing? It can be at first, but planning well by learning about the issues and the death and dying terminology you will hear later in life will empower you to make well-informed choices that support you.

For more explanations of death and dying terminology, click here to access our Glossary of Terms.