Fulfilling the Wishes of Loved Ones at the End of Life

Fulfilling the Wishes of Loved Ones at the End of Life

Fulfilling the Wishes of Loved Ones at the End of Life

Talking about the end of a life with friends and family members is often a hard conversation. Many of us don’t think we need to think over important final decisions when health is good. 

For a young, healthy person, these talks are likely the farthest thing from their mind. Instead, these important discussions often take place in the throes of an unexpected health crisis when it’s even more difficult.

Why do we need to talk about it? According to the organization Begin the Conversation leaving site icon,  it’s best to start end-of-life discussions early — as young 18. The earlier your wishes are known, the better.

Sure, it’s normal to steer clear of talk about death and dying. The topics are scary. Nearly everyone hopes the end of their life is peaceful. We want to feel comforted, mentally and physically, by family, friends and health professionals.

While that scenario may sound ideal, the reality can be quite different if care and attention hasn’t been given to decisions in advance. Planning is key. Make your wishes are known early, it helps make the end of life more dignified, peaceful and in sync with your wishes.

Experts at Begin the Conversation leaving site icon say there are six steps to getting it right:

  • Educate. Now is the time to educate yourself and your family about advance care planning.
  • Prepare. Remember, it’s better to be prepare 10 years too early than one day too late.
  • Communicate. Talk with friends and family members about why you want to have end-of-life conversations now.
  • Document. Use advance care planning forms to make sure you leave clear instructions and no detail is forgotten. Your wishes are more likely to be honored when they are in writing.
  • Act. Take action now rather than waiting.
  • Empower. Encourage others to start the conversation about advance directives.

Need more inspiration before tackling the big conversation? Check out Compassion & Choices leaving site icon.  This national nonprofit group works to improve care and expand end-of-life choices. They are helping change attitudes, practices and policies so everyone can access information and options to give people more control and comfort in their final days.

Sources: Facing the Elephant in the Room, leaving site icon Begin the Conversation; End of Life Care Planningleaving site icon Compassion & Choices.

Originally published 5/26/2016; Revised 2021, 2023