End of Life Conversations
Talking about what a Best Ending means (or doesn’t mean!) can make it easier to start a conversation about end of life planning for example, recalling:
- ‘best death’ or ‘worst death’ experiences
- situations where children (or grandchildren) argued or didn’t agree on or agree with parents’ or grandparents end of life wishes
- Recalling end of life as portrayed in movies, tv shows, books, articles and blogs.
End of life Conversations can start with a Reality Check:
- CPR is not like you see on TV
- ‘Success’ of CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation = shocking your heart back to life) depends on many factors: age, overall health and length of time the body and brain is deprived of oxygen.
- What’s your definition and expectation of ‘success’ of any intervention eg: impact on quality of life, possible complications.
There’s much to think and talk about, and to learn and ponder.
The American Medical Association has a checklist approach for cancer patients that also has merit for the rest of us:
- My understanding of the probable course and outcome of my disease.
- How much information do I want shared with loved ones.
- My goals of care, should my health seriously worsen, and time run short.
- My biggest fears about what’s to come; what functional abilities I could not imagine living without.
- How much medical intervention I am willing to undergo to gain more time (how much suffering am I willing to go through for the possibility of added time)
- How much I want family members/my community to know about my priorities and wishes.
Less medical, more personal wishes for light-hearted end-of-life ice-breakers:
“His name happened to be Jack Daniels, and he wanted us all to have a shot ’round his death bed. Terrible waste of a good bottle if you ask me.”
“I want my last words to be same as Steve Jobs: “Oh Wow” How’re we going to make that happen?”
Completing BestEndings Advance Directives can also serve as a conversation starter.
Bottom Line: There is no ‘right way’ to begin what will likely be a series of conversations about end of life wishes.
More insights on CPR: Dr Paul Dorian:a man dedicated to our hearts
Also helpful to read: What’s important
Interesting reading: Dr James Downar – Death is a precious as life