Will Your Most Important Wishes be Honored?

Will Your Most Important Wishes be Honored?

             Every day thousands of families confront difficult end-of-life decisions with no clear direction on the needs and wishes of their loved one who is dying.  We Americans plan and prepare diligently for births and weddings, knowing the importance.  But the other major life event—inexorable as it is—we often disposition as: “Just wing it.”

            Strange that we should do that, because births and weddings are times of joy; a bit of poor planning is easily overshadowed by the excitement and happiness of the occasion.  Times of dying of course tend to be tragic and stressful.  Adding layers of uncertainty and burdens of decision-making to the mix can constitute a plan for trauma.  That ordeal can have both emotional and physical impacts on the dying and leave deep, lasting emotional scars on their loved ones.

            There is of course a solution, and it is far more obvious than you may think.

The Conversation Project

            Like the fix to most other family issues the solution is called: “Talk about it.”  To make this discussion easy and facilitate it for people on a large scale, Ellen Goodman in 2010 gathered a group of clergy, medical professionals, and media personnel to contemplate a solution.  They shared stories both good and bad regarding their own experiences.  Then together with Len Fishman, Goodman founded The Conversation Project, a resource to encourage people to have the important end-of-life discussion with their loved ones.  The Project (www.theconversationproject.org) also provides tips and tools to facilitate the process.

            Many people may feel that talking with family about how they want their own lives to end is awkward and perhaps unpleasant on both sides of the discussion.  Just getting started can be the biggest hurdle to accomplishing the mission.  Fortunately, The Conversation Project provides tips and techniques on “breaking the ice” and also offers a starter-kit questionnaire that really helps get the conversation going and moving forward to fruition.

            The Conversation Project website also contains an archive of touching stories shared by others about their experiences, challenges, and solutions to this often-vexing issue.  Take a minute from you busy day and take a look.

            Then, why not start this crucial conversation in your own family?

            You can give your loved ones a final precious gift as you leave them… remove the burdens of uncertainty and lack of direction.  Rather than unduly fraught with anxiety, doubt, worry, and stress, ensure that your loved ones’ last months, weeks, and hours with you are peaceful.