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Let’s talk about dying

August 13, 2015
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Why? Because death is the final stage of life. Issues such advance directives, type of care, funeral arrangements and other individual preferences need to be communicated to family.  It’s a delicate, but important, process.

The Conversation Project is a resource that can help get the conversation going. There’s never a bad time to talk and write things down. The important thing is to talk about a person’s wishes on the care he or she wants or doesn’t want.  Get answers, especially early on when death is not imminent.

A successful end-of-life discussion focuses on “…having a conversation on values—what matters to you, not what’s the matter with you,” according to Ellen Goodman, founder and director of The Conversation Project.

Surveys indicate that while 90 percent of Americans say it’s important to convey their wishes for end-of-life care, only 27 percent of people actually do. And 60 percent of survey respondents don’t want to burden their families with making tough decisions, yet 56 percent have not communicated their wishes t those who would ensure that they are honored. As death becomes imminent, the conversation becomes harder or the opportunity slips away altogether.

Knowing what is expected eliminates a lot of guessing and doubt. It brings family together in the privilege of honoring their loved one. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t get a do-over.

The Conversation Project offers a toolkit that will enable your organization to partner with families so their end-of-life conversation can be a meaningful and memorable experience.

This conversation isn’t just for the sick or elderly. We have to do our best to be prepared. Bring the issue up in general conversation with family members. Find out what considerations are most important to them. After all, no one knows when death will arrive. Be confident in carrying out and respecting your loved one’s wishes. After all, you’ve had the conversation.

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Sandra Hoban

Managing Editor

Sandra Hoban


Sandra Hoban has been on Long-Term Living’s editorial staff for 17 years. She is one of...