Creating a Personal Statement

Create a personal statement for your spokesperson, loved ones, and health care team

Making decisions when you (the patient) are unable to do so can be emotionally stressful for family members. Even if you have completed legal documents such as an advance directive and provided guidance by filling out and sharing the Planning My Way worksheets, family members can still feel uncomfortable when making a decision on your behalf. They want to do what you would have chosen, but without knowing your exact preference for every situation they may be afraid that they will make the wrong choice.

When facing such difficult decisions, Andy Baxter (Cunniff-Dixon Foundation Founder), took solace and found comfort in reading the letter that his wife Carley Cunniff left for him (See Below). A personal letter or audio or video recording of your wishes added to your formal document (e.g., advance directive) can help your family and spokesperson understand your wishes, assure them that they are doing the right thing, and help your health care providers understand your end-of-life care preferences.

In the personal statement, you should include few things:
  1. Give your loved ones permission to follow your wishes and release them from any blame or negative consequences.
  2. Assure them that you trust that their decisions will be made in good faith and with their best effort to do what you would have wanted.
  3. State what you would have wanted for your health care in your own words and why.
  4. Thank them for doing this difficult but important task.

Once you have decided what you want to say, you can handwrite the letter, type it in an email, or record it as audio or video on your mobile phone or other equipment. Legal forms and worksheets are more formal documents. Your personal statement should be written from the heart.

Ensure that your statement (written, audio, or video) is given to your health care providers and spokesperson, along with your completed advance directive and other completed worksheets from Planning My Way.

Here are a few letters as examples:

  • Carley Cunniff's letter showing how she included the four core points. + -
  • Here is a second letter, expressing different set of wishes, but using the same format + -