My parents are in their 90s and fortunately they took the initiative years ago to organize their personal affairs - advance directives, long term care insurance, finances, power of attorney - so we would not be left guessing about their end of life desires. In fact, they inspired me in my middle age to confront the uncomfortable topic of my own end of life decisions and made certain that my adult children do not have to scramble to figure out what I would have wanted. Read more below to start the planning process and how to make the difficult conversation easier with your parents and other loved ones. A practical exercise not just for them, but for you to confront your own fears about your end of life plans.
How do you talk about death with a loved one?
People know they should talk about death honestly and openly, but surprisingly few do. In fact, one recent study showed that while 90% of adults say that talking to their loved ones about their end-of-life wishes is important, only 27% have actually had these conversations.
The 9 links below are suggested resources for reading, watching, discussing and listening to help you navigate a more holistic approach to the difficult topic of death and dying.
This living will/advance directive is legal in most states, is user friendly, and speaks to all of a person's needs: medical, personal, emotional and spiritual. Available in a printed and on-line format and published in 30 languages.
It’s time to share the way we want to live through the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. The Conversation Project offers free tools, guidance, and resources to begin talking with those who matter most about your and their wishes.
Dr. Atul Gawande explores death, dying and why even doctors struggle to discuss being mortal with patients, in this Emmy-nominated documentary. The book and film examine the relationships between doctors and patients nearing end of life and how the medical professional can help them as they face death.
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, NPR, and Chicago Tribune, now in paperback with a new reading group guide. Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make.
When iHeart Media host Kyle McMahon lost his mother to pancreatic cancer, he was heartbroken. He needed an outlet for his grief and created this podcast that is full of experts around the country to talk about grieving, loss, spiritualism, the afterlife, death rituals and advance care planning to help anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one.
A quick and informative read that helps make the case for and lays out helpful talking points for getting the discussion started with your family.
Death Over Dinner was launched in a single night where over 500 dinners in 20 countries collaborated to discuss death and end-of-life wishes around the table. Since then, there have been over a hundred thousand death dinners around the globe. They invite you to gather friends and family and fill a table. They lead you through a test dinner online so you can be certain you are ready to commit to follow through with an actual dinner.
"Morrie’s are the most basic lessons, but in a world full of cynicism, consumerism, and disenfranchised people, they need to be given again and again: Take time to stare out the window instead of at your computer screen. Laugh. It’s natural to die. Love is how you stay alive." Mitch Albom
"Our greatest hope is that Miss Norma's story will help other families have a better time broaching this difficult subject. Although we know that driving your loved one around the country in a motor home is not the answer for everyone, we have to ask, What might work for you?"
Driving Miss Norma Facebook page - Many people have gone to this Facebook page to help them organically begin this conversation with loved ones. Seeing images of Miss Norma on her end-of-life journey made the subject more relatable and less threatening to talk about.