Even if you have done everything to communicate your own end-of-life wishes, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to take the initiative and have the discussion with family members or loved ones who have not shared their end-of-life wishes with you. Here are a few helpful pointers to keep in mind as you plan for having this conversation:
Select an Appropriate Setting
Plan for the conversation; find a quiet, comfortable place that is free from distraction to hold a one-on-one discussion. Usually, a private setting is best.
People cope with end-of-life issues in many ways. Asking permission to discuss this topic assures your loved one that you will respect his or her wishes and honor them. Some ways of asking permission are:
Know What To Expect
Keep in mind that you have initiated this conversation because you care about your loved one’s wellbeing – especially during difficult times. Allow your loved one to set the pace. Try to focus on maintaining a warm and caring manner throughout the conversation by showing your love and concern:
Questions you may want to ask your loved one about his or her end-of-life care wishes include:
Understand that it is normal to encounter resistance the first time you bring up this topic. Don’t be surprised or discouraged; instead, plan to try again at another time.
Be a Good Listener
Keep in mind that this is a conversation, not a debate. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to is a big help. Be sure to make an effort to hear and understand what the person is saying. These moments, although difficult, are important and special to both of you. Some important things you can do are:
Having conversations with your loved ones about their end-of-life wishes can be a sensitive discussion. These conversations matter and are needed to learn about your loved one’s wishes so that those wishes can be honored at the end of life.
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