Talking to your loved one about death can feel incredibly overwhelming, and even morbid for some. Although we all know that death is a natural part of the life cycle, it certainly doesn’t make the transitions easier to handle. Many of our clients feel it will seem as though they are giving up on their loved one if they start to ask questions or start a dialogue regarding their end of life plans.
In fact, the exact opposite is often true. Studies show the earlier and more often our clients and their families can honestly express their wishes, the more peaceful the moments are at the end of their life.
We certainly aren’t saying these discussions are ever easy, nor will these conversations delay the inevitable grief and sadness that may occur upon their eventual passing. But we have compiled a few questions to help make these conversations flow smoother and help with the transition.
1. What is your understanding of your health and condition?
Not every end of life situation may include a terrible sickness or major health issue, so this can be a difficult question. I can definitely assist family members to gauge how they are feeling.
2. What are your goals and wishes for when your health worsens?
This is a vital question to ask, because their responses can help guide you when difficult decisions arise. How long would you prefer to prolong treatment? Do you want extreme measures? Is there a point when you’d rather stop traditional medicine and pursue hospice care or alternative care? Try to discuss this frankly with family members, as well as with doctors and caretakers, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
3. What are your fears?
Although everyone has different fears, some may include:
Being alone at the end of life
Being in pain
Putting the family through too many treatments
Leaving family members with financial strain
Not having personal or financial affairs in order
Not having religious or spiritual peace of mind
You may be surprised at what scares you about death and what doesn’t scare you. Always discuss your feelings with your family, loved ones and your doctors. Listen to your gut about when to ask for help, or even bringing in an estate planner or hospice care group.
Although many of these conversations are difficult, they usually lead to better days ahead for your loved ones.