Talk about End-of-Life Care

“I don’t want my mom to think I am giving up on her.”

“My mom is too sick to tell me what she wants, and now I have to make the decisions for her. I don’t know what to do.”

“My brothers and I disagree about dad’s care. They think we should do absolutely everything, but I don’t think dad wants that.”

Discussions about care wishes during the end of a life often take place in the hallway of the hospital in the midst of a crisis. Decisions for end-of-life care are made under incredible stress. Unfortunately, family members may be making their “best guess” about what a loved one would want for end-of-life care, having never discussed their desires in advance.

“I feel uncomfortable bringing up the topic with my parents.”

Conversations about our desires for end-of-life care are very uncomfortable for all of us. We are reluctant to think about our own mortality, and that of our loved ones. Frankly, it hurts to think about it. We feel grief and sadness when we contemplate life without that special person, even if they are with us and healthy.

That fear and sadness is normal.

Avoiding the conversation is our way of protecting ourselves from pain. However, avoiding the conversation when we can so easily have it only postpones the issue, and actually makes it harder on us when we are faced with making care decisions and are unable to have a discussion.