(Name has been changed to protect the client’s identity.)
Bill contacted me a few months after his mother unexpectedly passed away. Bill is 44 years old, divorced/single, and he has two children: one in college and the other, a senior in high school.
During our initial telephone call, Bill briefly shared with me the experience he had in managing the grief he felt around the loss of his mother and the additional stressors he had been under trying to handle her estate. He also expressed concern that he thought he hadn’t adequately prepared his children or close family members for what could happen or what he would want happen when he, himself, dies or if he were to have a life event where he would not be able to manage his own affairs.
After our initial meeting, Bill decided to proceed with the vision map series. We signed an electronic agreement, and I sent him an introductory email and a link to my calendar. He was then able to easily schedule six subsequent appointments online, each about a week apart.
BILL’S VISION MAP SESSIONS
Bill and I hit it off right away during the initial intake session, and I assured him about my promise of confidentiality. He stated he's the type of person who likes to know what to expect before embarking on a venture, so we talked more about the vision map process and the upcoming individual sessions themselves since we would be having our appointments over Zoom.
We began by talking about Bill's current reality in different areas of his life and his vision for a future care plan. Bill was able to open up more about what was on his heart and in his mind for the remainder of the scheduled time. At the end of the initial intake session, we confirmed the next meeting time, and I sent him the reflective homework questions for our first vision map session.
We continued our appointments using the same format over the next five weeks, going through each of the domains: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and practical. Each week I would send Bill the reflective homework questions in advance, and then we would meet on Zoom to dialog about his answers and together come up with a plan to create action steps to ease his mind.
To protect Bill’s identity, I’m sharing just a sampling of the results from his completed vision map:
Session No. 1 Spiritual Domain: After looking at his spiritual practices, Bill decided to reach out to some of his spiritual advisors with whom he had lost contact. He expressed that he believes in a heaven, and he realized how much he equates the concept of heaven to being in nature. He said it would bring him comfort to have a regular routine of walking, hiking, biking, or camping to find his center.
Session No. 2, Emotional Domain: Bill wants to be involved in the decision-making process at the end of his life and had some fears around that issue. He doesn’t want his family to hold back from talking about hard things. Bill said he tends to worry about his family before taking care of his own needs so he might need “permission” from them. He asked if I would be available whenever he was ready to meet with his family, which I was happy to agree to do.
Session No. 4, Physical Domain: Although Bill expressed that he wants to remain in his home as long as possible as he ages, he admits his house is cluttered. His spare bedroom has turned into a storage space, which made him realize that it would be difficult for a care provider to come in or for him to maneuver if he needed assistance. Bill committed to spending the next two Saturdays cleaning out his spare room.
Session No. 5, Practical Domain: This session took us longer than any other session. We discussed body disposition and burial options. Bill said he does not have an Advance Care Directive, so he downloaded one from the State of Oregon and completed it prior to our appointment. He also has not been able to find the key to his safe deposit box, so within the week, he said he will either find it or go to the bank to get another one.
After our last session, I provided Bill with an electronic copy of all the action steps we had come up with together for his vision map. I also gave him a laminated copy of his end-of-life vision to put inside his important paperwork binder so it would be readily available to anyone if he was ever in a position that he could not express his wishes.
When I called Bill to follow up a month after our final vision map appointment, he shared that he had completed most of the items on his action list and felt a greater sense of ease and comfort. I asked Bill if he was ready to meet with his family. He said he was “close to it,” so we agreed to have another phone call in one more month to set a date to do so.
When I called Bill again a month later to follow up, he said an opportunity had presented itself in the past few weeks when both of his kids were home from school visiting at the same time, and they were able to sit down and start a heartfelt conversation about aging, death, and dying.
One year later, I circled back around to Bill. He said that he had completed all his original action steps and thought of additional steps. He also said he was no longer feeling overwhelmed, he had a greater sense of relief, his family was communicating more comfortably about otherwise uncomfortable topics, and he had even made an appointment with an estate attorney.