The Case of Carol Grant and Honoring the Deceased’s Last Wishes

Carol Grant, a resident of Billings, Montana, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2017. Her physicians predicted that she would not likely be alive by her daughter, Kelsey’s, graduation which was scheduled for May 20, 2017. Seeing Kelsey graduate as valedictorian at Terry High School has been Grant’s last expressed wish.


As a result, with the help of two other residents, Mary Elizabeth Grue and Michelle Wolf, an early ceremony was held at the Prairie Community Hospital on April 26, 2017. Local businesses got together to donate the flowers, a cake, and banners. The school officials also agreed to the decision and participated as well. Carol Grant reported on May 1st, 2017 that she was overjoyed. Kelsey plans to attend Montana State University Billings to study to be a pediatrician.


Out of all of the things that can be done to help a person, honoring the deceased’s last wishes is probably among the most important. There is some debate about that. Some carry the attitude of what the deceased “doesn’t know won’t hurt him or her”. And yet to so many, it feels so wrong. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that failing to honor the deceased’s last wishes harms the living relatives on so many levels.


In this context, the phrase, “last wishes” doesn’t necessarily limit itself to what the deceased wants done with their body or what is written in any Wills that they may have left. Last wishes, like Carol Grant’s, can refer to something that an individual with a terminal illness wants to do with all their being before they actually pass on. To honor it not only makes everyone feel better, it also creates the feeling of giving the person with the terminal illness “permission” to pass on. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that people have survived incredible things, such as the Holocaust, one illicit drug binge after another, or being stabbed. In those situations, it is as if something bigger than the individual’s body or finite will wants to continue on.


In cases like Carol Grant’s, it is also as if honoring their last wishes is giving that bigger something “permission” to move on to end the suffering.