July 30, 2015

The end-of-life conversation is not an easy one to have, but it’s vital.

Speaking with a loved one about their final moments is a tough, intimate, and emotional undertaking, but it could make their final stages happier and less stressful for all parties involved.

First, you can clear the air and make sure you know exactly what they want should their health decline to a point where they cannot make decisions for themselves. Secondly, by having the discussion, you address the situation head-on, making the process easier for the entire family to navigate.

It’s still difficult—it will always be difficult—but by having an end-of-life conversation, you can ensure your loved one’s final days are as joyous and celebratory as possible.

Right now, the Conversation Project advocates for everyone to have the talk. You can share your story on their site, helping others better understand both the challenges and the rewards of undertaking an end-of-life discussion with a loved one.

These stories reveal heartfelt moments and surprising truths.

Participant Hong Yee shared a story about how he approached the conversation with his ailing father, generating an unexpected outcome: His father wanted to have the talk all along. For any family, this is rare, but for Asian families especially, such a discussion is often viewed as “taboo.” That was not the case for Yee, and he never would have known if he didn’t initiate the exchange.

‘I was worried that my dad would be superstitious and perceive the conversation as a bad omen,’ Yee said. ‘That worry was totally unfounded. It became clear that my dad was ready to talk about it all along. He was just waiting for me to be ready. So, over a hearty ‘Dim Sum’ breakfast, he told me everything he wanted and didn’t want.’

So have the talk. Doing so could benefit you and your family in unforeseen ways, and they may be too nervous, scared, or both to bring it up on their own. There are plenty of lessons to learn during these difficult times, and it’s beneficial to be as prepared and as educated as possible ahead of time.

Nancy3If you need help navigating this discussion, current Mission Support grantee ElderHelp and past grantee Serving Seniors are based in San Diego County, and they’re always ready to provide help and resources to those committed to improving the lives of seniors.

One conversation can make all the difference.

Have you had an end-of-life discussion with a loved one? With as much detail as you’re comfortable sharing, let us know what was said and how the talk affected the resulting days, months, or years. I look forward to hearing your story.

Nancy Sasaki, AHF Executive Director

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