STEPS FOR STARTING THE END-OF-LIFE CONVERSATION
No one wants to discuss death and dying. Yet it’s a critical time for which we ought to prepare. Many people are uncomfortable starting this conversation although they may wish to share their wishes.
As an important part of estate planning, healthcare decisions need to be talked about. This helps preserve your legacy and provide peace of mind in decision-making for your loved ones.
If you’ve been dreading having this talk with your own parents, children or other family members, there are a number of steps you can consider.
Before launching into this tough conversation, it’s not a bad idea to ask when they might have time to discuss your estate planning and healthcare decisions. By introducing the topic in this matter, no one is caught entirely off guard. It can help family members to reflect on what is most important and what they really want to communicate before sitting down.
Aim for Clarity
Do whatever you can to help make these conversations clear. Write out a list of major points you want to make ahead of time. Be prepared that family members may come with different opinions and questions they want to ask about.
Family members should be aware “people with serious illness have priorities besides simply prolonging their lives. Surveys find that their top concerns include avoiding suffering, strengthening relationships with family and friends, being mentally aware, not being a burden on others, and achieving a sense that their life is complete.” ― Atul Gawande, Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End
What this means will vary over time and personal circumstances. Family members included in the decision-making process should be aware of the ill person’s objectives, standards for a minimal meaningful quality of life, preferences for life support, memorials, etc.. Simplicity and clarity can help neutralize feelings of anxiety.
Don’t Get Sidetracked
This is a tough one. Likely no one really wants to talk about it, or would rather talk about something else. But you’ve got to get through it. Try to stay on task. You want to make sure that everyone walks away from the conversation with a better understanding than when it began.
Keep the Conversation Going
While it may feel like a one-time conversation because it’s emotional, or hard to have if your loved one lives far away, remember that it’s not a one-time deal. You are simply opening the lines of conversation, not setting anything in stone. Remembering this will help empower everyone to be open and help provide peace of mind when the time comes to make difficult decisions.
Need Assistance? Give Us a Call
Talking about your end of life decisions can be hard, but it is an essential part of estate planning. If you have any further questions about how to have these conversations or would like us to help facilitate this discussion, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help!
Law Office of Kathleen M. Toombs
157 Barrett Street
Schenectady, NY 12305
P: (518) 688-2846
F: (518) 688-2849