Destiny Johnson, J.D. Candidate, 2020

Destiny Johnson, University at Buffalo School of Law, J.D. Candidate, 2020

I am a third year law student at the University at Buffalo School of Law. In May of 2018, I began working for the Medical Legal Partnership between the Center for Elder Law and Justice and ECMC. The partnership provides free legal assistance to all ECMC patients. Before I started working at ECMC when I thought about planning for the future it never involved advance health care directives. It was simply hard to imagine that I would need to have these conversations at such a young age. I thought those were things you dealt with as you got older, and that I had plenty of time left to think about that. Through my work with MedLaw, I have seen the unexpected happen to people of all ages and this has prompted me to take action. Once I started talking to my loved ones about what I would want, it was eye opening to see the differences between what I wanted and what they assumed.  It wasn’t that they were trying to make decision that I wouldn’t agree with, it was just that they did not know what I would want because I never shared my wishes with them so they were doing the best they could.

The most important thing I have learned is that it is never too early to start having these important conversations with your loved ones in the event of an emergency. Not only to make sure that your wishes are played out in an event of an emergency but also so that your family can feel at peace knowing that it was your voice behind the decisions they made. This kind of open communication could encourage your loved ones to share with you their wishes as well. Although it is not always easy, I have learned that it’s never too early or late to have these conversations with the ones you trust and love.