Talking to Family and Friends

Talking with your loved ones before a medical crisis happens, gives everyone a shared understanding about what matters most to you at the end of life.

Conversations about your wishes can:

  • bring families together by helping them understand what is important to you
  • help your loved ones to communicate to your health professionals what is most important to you
  • help you to figure out where you stand and what you want in terms of:
    • the information you want about your condition and your treatment
    • how much of a say you want to have in decisions about your treatment and how much you will leave it to your doctors
    • whether you want to know how long the doctors think you have left to live
    • what your worries about medical treatment are
    • what your preferences are about where you would like to spend your last days
    • how involved you want your loved ones to be in your care/treatment decisions

Conversations can also help your loved ones understand where you are coming from, particularly when they may disagree with you, its ok for them not to be in full agreement continuing to talk can help both you and them.

Yet having conversations about dying and end of life choices can be difficult, often family members may not be keen to engage saying things like ’you’ve got a long time left;’, or ‘you’ll outlive me’.

Here are some ways you could introduce the conversation:

  •  “I was thinking about what happened to…. , and it made me realize…”
  •  “Even though I’m okay right now, I’m worried that , and I want to be prepared.”
  • “I need to think about the future. Will you help me?”

When having these conversations, it’s good to remember that a good death can mean different things to different people and that people can change their minds as circumstances change.