Yesterday I promised I would offer suggestions on how to start the conversation with a loved one about end-of-life wishes. Obviously, the easiest time to discuss your feelings about death is when you are both healthy. If your care receiver is not well, it will require some finesse. Don’t sit down with a clipboard with the intention of getting this settled once and for all!
Look for openings that seem natural. For instance, you could say something like, “I’ve been reading a blog on caregiving, and this week’s topic has been about death and dying. I know that sounds a little grim, but it’s been enlightening, and it’s made me realize that if a person does this right, it’s possible to stay in control of the process and actually die peacefully. I’d like to talk about what’s important to each of us when that time gets close. Would that be okay with you?”
If your loved is open to the discussion, it will be much easier. You can start with general, practical questions such as:
- How do you think a person knows when it’s time to let go?
- At what point do you think life would no longer worth living?
- Do you think stopping life-extending treatments is up to the doctor or should the person who is ill decide when it’s time to stop?
- Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing to have a “DNR?” (Do Not Resuscitate Order – a patient’s advance refusal of CPR.)
- If either you or I reached the point that recovery isn’t possible, what would do you think would matter?
- Do you think people are afraid to talk about death? Do you have any fears about dying?
- If given the choice, would you prefer to die at home, or would you prefer to die in a hospital?
- What would you consider a horrible death?
- How would you describe a good death?
- If you were told today that you only had a week to live, would you feel like there was anyone you needed to talk to or anything that you really needed to finish before that time came?
This is not an easy topic to broach, but if you can push past your own discomfort, you may be able to open the door to meaningful conversations that will help both of you face the end of life with a sense of peace.
For more information on this topic, please click on the link to the article below, then come back tomorrow and we’ll lighten things up a bit. “When a Loved One is Terminally Ill”