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Tips on How to Start The Conversation

Planning ahead can lead to peace of mind for your family. If you are lucky enough to still have parents, finding out their end of life wishes can help prevent family discord in a highly emotional and stressful time. Also, letting your children know your wishes is a wonderful gift to them. A few hours of preparation can save loved ones a lifetime of bitter feelings and remorse. 

Many people have told us they appreciate our tips for using family gatherings, holidays, or events as a way to make their wishes known to family and loved ones, or to ‘start the conversation’ with elderly parents. “Bringing it up around the Thanksgiving table when we’re all together is a terrific idea,” wrote a woman from Florida, “but what are the right words to use?”

What we’re hearing back from people is that intentions to open the dialogue may be there, but not knowing the words to get it started may keep it from happening.

There isn’t just one path to take in this often awkward-to-navigate road, and one that might be right for others may not work for you.  So here a few approaches to consider that have worked for us, our family and friends.

Think about how you can broach the subject:

Straightforward: While we’re all together, I want to bring up a subject that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to…”

Do me a favor: “Mom, I know this might be hard to discuss, but if you could tell us what you want it would be easier on us, and we really want to honor your wishes.”

Humor: “Did you realize that the death rate in the U.S. is 100%”??!

Bribe: “Dad, I’ll treat you to a round of golf if we can have a beer afterward and discuss your thoughts on the future.”

Current news event or story:  “Have you been reading the stories about Brittany Maynard (or Casey Kasem: insert celebrity name here). It’s made me do some thinking about what I’d want to happen in that situation.”

Older news event or story: “I never want our family to experience what the family of Terri Schiavo went through!”

Thought-provoking movie or book: “I watched ‘Beaches’ again this weekend – it always  makes  me cry, but this time it made me think about what I’d do if I were in that situation.”

We’ll be back with more ideas and tips on how to get the conversation started in your family. Meanwhile, send us your own suggestions here.





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