If the content of daytime television talk shows is a guide, Americans are far more comfortable publicly discussing almost any aspect of their intimate lives than they are the irrefutable fact that they will die.
While we intellectually understand that we will not live forever, acknowledging that fact by talking
about it with loved ones is nonetheless an incredibly difficult thing for most of us to do. It is almost as if we have a superstitious belief that if we don't talk about it, it won't happen.
Yet, candid conversations with family members and close friends about the kind of care we wish to receive at the end of our lives may be one of the most valuable gifts we can give them.
And because that end sometimes comes suddenly and unexpectedly as well as from illness, these discussions are as important for 20-somethings as they are for older adults.
While we may know the value of such conversations, many of us are uncertain about how to initiate them and what to talk about once we do. That's why I was pleased to discover that The Conversation Project offers resources to help initiate these important discussions.
The Conversation Project offers a free "Welcome to the Conversation Starter Kit," which begins: "It's not easy to talk about how you want the end of your life to be. But it's one of the most important conversations you can have with your loved ones."
"This Starter Kit will help you get your thoughts together and then have the conversation."
"This isn't about filling out Advance Directives or other medical forms. It's about talking to your loved ones about what you or they want for end-of-life care."
"Whether you're getting ready to tell someone what you want, or you want to help someone else get ready to talk, we hope the Starter Kit will be a useful guide."
"We want you to be the expert on your wishes and those of your loved ones. Not the doctors or nurses. Not the end-of-life experts. You."
In addition to the Conversation Starter Kit, I recommend Five Wishes and Go Wish, both of which were described in an earlier post, to develop a better understanding of the type of care one desires at the end of life.
Have you initiated conversations about end-of-life issues with loved ones, and if so, how did you begin them?
This blog entry was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice volunteer. You many contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.