Deathbed Promises

June 29, 2014

One of the most unfair promises that you’ll ever be asked to make is a deathbed promise. It’s usually such an emotional time as it is, to witness a loved one dying before your eyes and, pleading with you to honor their dying wish, places a burden of enormous magnitude on you.

I usually consider a promise a sacred trust, to be honored at all costs, but, after hearing some unreasonable dying wishes forced on people, I think I would have to exclude the ones made as the loved one is taking his last gasping breath.

In most relationships, people talk about the things that are important to them. They may not agree with one another, but at least their views on a subject have been discussed. If you don’t want to be put in an unfair position at the end of a loved one’s life, have as many of those discussions as you can and, if you don’t want to be responsible for what’s being asked of you, make it abundantly clear before it becomes a deathbed promise you’re being asked to make.

Many people have said that the person was having such a hard time letting go, and they wanted him or her to go peacefully, so they agreed to do whatever was being asked of them.

Some people have been asked to promise that a vendetta will be continued, or asked to promise they will save a family home from being foreclosed. Others have been asked to take care of a family member or take care of a friend’s family, or to assume financial responsibility for someone. The list of unreasonable demands goes on and on of the different kinds of things people are asked to promise as the person is taking his last breath.

But is it fair to ask someone to stand in your stead after you are gone, to be responsible for the things that you didn’t or couldn’t do? And, as such, is it fair to expect someone to honor that deathbed promise, especially knowing that you have put him in such an unfair and untenable position?

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