Having “The Conversation”

I don’t usually talk about “end-of-life” type of things on my blog, because what drives me is enabling people to tell their life stories on video to pass on to future generations. The process is about reminiscing and celebrating all that has happened in a person’s life and leaving a legacy. It is most definitely not about dying.

And yet, it’s still out there. This fact that one day there will be no more days. And how do we want to live our last days?

I was intrigued recently reading about “The Conversation Project.”  It’s a movement to have those conversations with our loved ones about how they want to be cared for when it comes time for the end-of-life.

It’s not an easy conversation to bring up. (I know this first hand, as I had meant to start it last week while on vacation with my husband’s family.) But I do know that it’s an important one to have.

At the Conversation Project’s website, they have a thoughtful starter kit that includes pages to fill out where you and your loved ones can share what’s most important at end-of-life and how you want to be cared for when that time comes. It includes a “What matters to me” most sentence as a way to start. It delves into how much you might want to know as a patient, how long you want to receive medical care, and how involved you want your loved ones to be.

This is not necessarily about Wills and Advance Directives, though it can be the beginning of that process. It's about some of the smaller and sometimes intangible wishes that we don't ever seem to discuss. Things that might seem small in the short term but can be big and overwhelming when you're facing them.

"The Conversation" can be started by a parent or a child. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it happens. On the website, there are some great ideas for icebreakers on how to start this conversation, as well as other people sharing their stories of how they handled it.

As the Conversation Project shares, “It’s not easy to talk about dying, but it’s vitally important.” I’m curious if other people have started this conversation with their parents or grandparents. What worked for you? What was successful? Please share a note in the comments below and let's get the conversation started here.

4 Comments
  1. June 26, 2014 at 16:04

    Thanks for sharing this post Debbie. It spurred me to forward the link to The Conversation Project to my parents, and offer to go through the kit with them when I'm visiting next. Another resource I shared with them is 25 documents related to wills & estates from the Wall Street Journal. http://on.wsj.com/l93yGA

    • June 26, 2014 at 21:30

      Sandy, Thanks for sharing this additional resource! What a great idea to send the website via email - a great way to break the ice and get the conversation started without having to have that initial actual conversation first. Curious to hear how it all goes at your next visit.

  2. Ruth Hardy
    June 27, 2014 at 10:32

    Hi Debbie, My Dad had the conversation with Fred and Me after my Mom got sick and we were so grateful that everything had been taken care of. I also have had the conversation with Jessica and I believe Mel & Dave have had the conversation with Tavis and his brother, but I am forwarding this month's letter to them as a reminder. Love you, Ruth

    • July 4, 2014 at 08:40

      Thanks for sharing this Ruth. So glad to know that you had such a positive experience around what is not always an easy conversation to have. Love, Debbie