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Before I Die walls spark conversation of how you want to die

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The "Before I Die" walls in Gainesville are a fun way to share your ambitions.

What you may not know—these walls actually serve to start the conversation about how you want to die.

“You never know what can happen,” said Joey Whelihan, a UF medical student. “The world is a scary place sometimes and you’re not guaranteed the next hour or the next day.”

Twelve “Before I Die” walls have been set up throughout Gainesville, and it’s a fun way to share your ambitions, but these walls also serve to start a conversation about advance directives.

“Kind of promoting that idea of beginning to think about your end of care goals and wishes,” said Abby Wolz, the Before I Die project coordinator. “Which is something that is kind of taboo in today’s world where we don’t want to talk about death and dying. So this really frames it in a positive way.”

UF Health advocates how important it is to have these conversations with those closest to you, so they do not have to just guess what your wishes would be in your final moments.

“I see the dilemmas that our families face,” said Anne Meiring, a patient experience specialist. “Especially if there is a large family and everyone has misperceptions about what mom or dad may have wanted. It can become a very troubling time. So doing an advanced directive is truly a gift to your family.”

The advance directive lets you decide who is your health care surrogate, or who you want to make decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself.

You can also fill out a living will declaration, which communicates your personal choices, such as where you want to spend your final days or even ensuring you have a clean shave.

“By having an advance directive, you have that choice,” Wolz said. “You are given that opportunity to say what your wishes are, who you want your healthcare surrogate to be in case something would happen. And its really that sense of empowerment that gives you that opportunity to state your own wishes and gives you back that control that you might one day lose.”

You can find these documents at UFHealth.org/advanced-directives and give it to your UF health clinic provider.

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