Integrity and Authenticity: The Legacy of Barbara Bush
May 1, 2018
Written by: Northern Tri-County Advance Care Planning Program
NORTH CONWAY, NH: Barbara Bush will forever be recognized for her many inspiring efforts, but above all she will be remembered for her authenticity and integrity. Her intelligence, frank nature, passion, and wit are often quoted.She did not shy away from the stories frequently told by her family about her character.She was not ashamed or afraid of being who she was. Carl Jung once said, "The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are." Perhaps that life lesson is Mrs. Bush's greatest legacy.
It is said that to live authentically we must live from a genuine place from within; a place where our actions and words are aligned with our beliefs and values. Mrs. Bush valued and championed causes and charities that focused on empowering and improving the quality of life of others. She believed in learning opportunities; her literacy foundation's mission is to provide equal opportunities to all by opening the door through literacy. The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital, where she spent time and donated funds, takes pride in "intensely personalized care that's responsive to each child's – and family's – unique needs". At her funeral Susan Baker, a longtime family friend, said, "Barbara's motivation to help others was never about herself, but about giving love and support to those in need".
At the end of her life, the Bush family publicly announced that Mrs. Bush "has decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care". Even in her last days, Mrs. Bush offered the world an opportunity to start a conversation and learn more about comfort care. She gave us space to know it was ok to accept the inevitable- she was going to pass, and she was going to do it in the manner in which she lived, authentically and on her own terms.
Patients at the end of life often wish to emphasize quality of life rather that seeking curative treatment. The emphasis is on comfort, dignity, and respect. It is a team approach to support the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient. The philosophy of comfort care embodies the strong beliefs and values that held true throughout Mrs. Bush's life, and was the right personal choice for her. She once said, "When all the dust has settled, and all the crowds are gone, the things that matter are faith, family and friends…we have been inordinately blessed, and we know that."Ellen Goodman, co-founder of the Conversation Project, said of the announcement "It sounds like this forthright, outspoken woman has made her wishes known and the family is standing by her."
There is no "should" when discussing authenticity and no “one size fits all” for how we choose to spend the last chapter of our lives. With a little advance care planning, we can evoke our right to pass in a way that is aligned with our personal preferences, values and beliefs. Of all of Mrs. Bush's lessons, she bequeaths us the permission to die how we choose. Resources for End of Life Conversations, Advanced Care Planning, and Comfort Care services such as Hospice and Palliative Care can be found at theconversationproject.org and your local Visiting Nurse Agency.
Visiting Nurse Home Care and Hospice of Carroll County and Western Maine (603) 356-7006