Judy MacDonald Johnston: Prepare for a good end of life
Thinking about death is frightening, but planning ahead is practical and leaves more room for peace of mind in our final days. In a solemn, thoughtful talk, Judy MacDonald Johnston shares 5 practices for planning for a good end of life.
Judy MacDonald Johnston - Entrepreneur By day, Judy MacDonald Johnston develops children's reading programs. By night, she helps others maintain their quality of life as they near death. Full bio
What would be a good end of life?
And I'm talking about the very end.
I'm talking about dying.
We all think a lot about how to live well.
I'd like to talk about increasing our chances of dying well.
I'm not a geriatrician.
I design reading programs for preschoolers.
What I know about this topic
comes from a qualitative study with a sample size of two.
In the last few years, I helped two friends
have the end of life they wanted.
Jim and Shirley Modini spent their 68 years of marriage
living off the grid on their 1,700-acre ranch
in the mountains of Sonoma County.
They kept just enough livestock to make ends meet
so that the majority of their ranch would remain a refuge
for the bears and lions and so many other things
that lived there.
This was their dream.
I met Jim and Shirley in their 80s.
They were both only children who chose not to have kids.
As we became friends, I became their trustee
and their medical advocate,
but more importantly, I became
the person who managed their end-of-life experiences.
And we learned a few things about how to have a good end.
Judy MacDonald Johnston - Entrepreneur By day, Judy MacDonald Johnston develops children's reading programs. By night, she helps others maintain their quality of life as they near death.
Why you should listen
Judy MacDonald Johnston is the Publisher and Cofounder of Blue Lake Children's Publishing, which develops educational reading tools for preschoolers through a program called the Tessy and Tab Reading Club. Johnston's credo, "love words early," and her focus on the earliest years of life, is an interesting foil for her other passion: Planning for end of life. Johnston's side project, Good [End of] Life, deals not with happy babies decoding symbols, but with a much more morbid topic: Death. Good [End of] Life is a set of online worksheets and practices that aim to help deal with difficult questions -- like who should speak for you if you cannot speak, and whether to fill out a do-not-resuscitate form -- before it's too late.
In the past 15 years alone Johnston has founded two other companies in addition to Blue Lake Children's Publishing: PrintPaks, a children's software company, and Kibu, a social networking site for teenage girls. Previously Johnston was a Worldwide Project Marketing Manager at Hewlett Packard.