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I remember that awkward moment as a kid when my parents decided I was old enough to have “that” talk.  Now, as an adult, there’s the “other” conversation that looms – all the decisions around end-of-life care.

Debbie Reslock recalls when the doctors asked her if her mom would prefer to be in the hospital or at home for the end, “I remember how angry I was, unprepared to make this decision and wanting to scream, ‘Why are you asking me?’ But of course, when I got older, I realized the real question was why hadn’t any of us asked her?”  Read the rest of her story here.


Many of us are careful planners; plotting our vacation in detail, home improvement projects, budgets – but when it comes to our own care, filling out an Advance Health Care Directive can be intimidating.  Statistics show if you’ve been putting off the end of life care conversation, you’re not alone: 

  • 90% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important.
  • 27% have actually done so. Source: The Conversation Project National Survey (2013)
  • 60% of people say that making sure their family is not burdened by tough decisions is extremely important.
  • 56% have not communicated their end-of-life wishes. Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)
  • 80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about wishes for medical treatment toward the end of their life.
  • 7% report having had this conversation with their doctor. Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)
  • 82% of people say it’s important to put their wishes in writing.
  • 23% have actually done it. Source: Survey of Californians by the California HealthCare Foundation (2012)

Source: www.theconversationproject.org

Why Have “The Talk”

It’s a myth that kids mostly fight about money.  What motivates the toughest battles is kids who have different opinions about what mom or dad would have wanted.  When you take the time to communicate with your children about your wishes, you remove that potential future source of conflict.

The god-like decision of life or death is a heavy thing.  You can send your child on a life-long guilt trip about whether they made the right decision if they aren’t sure what you would have wanted. 

One Resource

Visit www.theconversationproject.org for resource materials to organize your thoughts for the conversation.  They also have a fascinating section of stories from families sharing their experiences around having end-of-life conversations.