Advanced Planning for the End of Life

You may not feel up to thinking about things like wills and funerals. But if you are able to discuss practical matters openly and early on with family, it can bring some peace of mind for everyone involved. It can help the person with advanced lymphoma to know that their wishes are understood and it can relieve some of the stress and uncertainty for caregivers and family.

Tips for Organizing Important Papers

  • Make a list of where your family can find important papers, or gather them together yourself if you are able.
  • Keep your papers in a fireproof box, with your lawyer or in a safety deposit box. Make sure that a family member or friend has access.
  • Although original documents are needed for legal purposes, give family members copies.

If you need help ask a doctor, social worker or lawyer. You can also give copies of any legal documents related to medical care to members of the healthcare team.

Advance Directives

Advance directives are legal documents that describe what a person wants for their medical care, finances or estate. They allow people to clearly describe their decisions about end-of-life care and who will act on their behalf when necessary. They take effect only if the person becomes unable to make decisions.

Living Wills

A living will is a set of written instructions about a person’s wishes for medical care. If a person later becomes unable to communicate or make decisions, doctors and caregivers will know what their wishes are about the following:

  • Use of breathing machines or ventilators
  • Use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if breathing or heartbeat stops
  • Artificial feeding such as tube feeding
  • Continuing or not continuing with medical treatments.

These types of medical care can be used to delay death. As the person with advanced cancer, it is always your right to refuse treatment and to make this wish known.

Power of Attorney

You can choose someone to act as your power of attorney to make healthcare or financial decisions for you if you become unable to do so. Sometimes, one person is chosen to make financial decisions and another person to make healthcare decisions. A power of attorney should be someone you know well and trust. They will have legal authority to act for you on your behalf.


You may want to change an existing will or create a new one. A will gives legal instructions about how people want their money, property and other assets to be handled when they die. It can also include information about who might look after a person’s children (under age 18) after death or who should look after pets. When writing a will, get advice from a lawyer to make sure that the document is legal.

Funeral Planning

Some people want to plan their own funeral, memorial service or other special tribute or event. Others may not. If you’re ready, talk to a funeral director, spiritual adviser or social worker. If you have specific religious or cultural customs, be sure to make these known. Planning ahead means others will not be left to make decisions for you.