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Stanford Medicine

Aging, Medicine and Society

Talking about a loved one's end-of-life wishes

Last Friday, CommonHealth’s Carey Goldberg posted a moving account of a discussion she had with her 85-year-old father about his wishes for his end of life. Death is something that few people want to talk about, but Goldberg and the medical professionals who launched The Conversation Project make clear there is real benefit in doing so:

Dr. Jessica McCannon, a Massachusetts General Hospital critical-care physician and an advisor to The Conversation Project: “If patients and families can do this around their kitchen tables, and come to the hospital saying, ‘Look, I know my mom; this is what’s important to her,’ then we can really, calmly, make decisions that make sense.”

…I have to admit that I kind of dreaded [my conversation with my dad]. But I ended up finding it surprisingly comforting. I’d thought this was something I was doing for my dad, to get clear on his wishes. But in the process I learned that he was doing it for me. That he wanted to make sure I came away from his ending without guilt, knowing that though he didn’t want to die, he didn’t fear it.

Her entire conversation is worth a read.

Previously: The importance of patient-doctor end-of-life discussions, KQED health program focuses on end-of-life care and Facing mortality

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