THAT form…the DNR.


This latest one has been patiently waiting on the window ledge in the sitting room since August. No joke, it’s been there for 2 months. It’s still not filled out. But, reluctantly and with resignation, it will be. It MUST be.

I remember the first time a nurse in the hospital asked me if I had a DNR for my son…and for those of you not in the know, DNR stands for Do Not Resuscitate. (This one is actually titled Advance Treatment Discussion. Less offensive I suppose?) Anyway, that first time…I was utterly shocked and I could even go so far as to say offended. “Absolutely not!” I exclaimed to the poor girl just doing her job, “You do everything you can to save my son if it comes down to it!”

That was years ago.

Things change. And sometimes, they change drastically.

In the summer of 2013, my son Brendan came down with severe bilateral pneumonia. He nearly died. While I sat at his hospital bedside day and night for 11 days, I had the opportunity (and that’s what I choose to call it) to search my heart, my mind, and in the process, to let go of certain false realities. And that is when things changed drastically…I signed his first DNR form.


Actually, wrong. Totally wrong. Trust me, I know first hand what an internal struggle it is to even consider a DNR on your own precious child. It goes against every fiber of our being as a parent! But somewhere in this 11 day soul-searching experience I had sitting next to Brendan’s hospital bed in 2013, I realised (once again) this is for HIM, not for me. And what is meant to happen for our precious angels on this journey will not be changed by us parents thinking about “that time.” Signing the DNR will not make it come any sooner or any later. It won’t, honestly.

But signing the DNR will do one very important thing…

When that time comes, however it comes, whatever it looks like, we all hope we can be strong, thinking clearly, making decisions appropriately. But who knows how we will be at that moment? We just don’t know. So, I decided I wanted to make the decision on life-saving measures to be taken for my son NOW, while he isn’t in hospital, while I am not under pressure to make such a monumental decision while looking at his beautiful face and holding his soft hand. There it is, done: A decision made that I now can put out of my mind and not have to be concerned about in the heat of an emergency for it has already been decided.

“Escape clause”: But here’s the thing to remember when signing a DNR…if, in the heat of the moment while emergency staff or doctors are working on your angel, you decide you want to change your mind, you can ignore the DNR. You CAN say to them “do everything you can to save my child” and then they must. It IS up to you, ultimately, no matter if you’ve signed the DNR or not, in that moment.

And don’t forget, you CAN (and I say, SHOULD) include instruction as to if the emergency occurs when you are not with your child. This, to me, is the most important aspect of the DNR I have for my angel boy Brendan. The instructions I added are that if I am not present when he goes into a life-threatening emergency, that he IS to have life-saving measures taken until such a time as I can get to his bedside…to say not goodbye, but I will see you again. And then…then I will make that decision to let him gain his angel wings and fly.

That heartbreaking, soul-shattering, life-changing decision.

That decision on when we believe there is nothing more that can be done to save our child…when we decide we don’t want machines to keep our child alive…

When we decide to let our precious angels fly.


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