Facing the End of Life
WebMD Live Events Transcript
Recent events have again shown us how important it is to have open, honest discussions with our loved ones about the end of life. But how do we begin? What are the issues we must deal with and how can we best address them? Laura Larsen, RN, author of "Facing the Final Mystery: A Guide to Discussing End-of-Life Issues," was our guest on June 29, 2005.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
What I like to suggest is that this person keep the conversation about themselves. That is, they might say for example, "Mom, Dad, I need to know these things about your end-of-life decision. It makes me anxious to not know what you think or want or need in just the practical terms, let alone how you're feeling about these issues." That way, the person is less likely to be defensive.
You may have to do that a couple of times, with different reasons, but always keeping it from your point of view, the person willing and interested in having these conversations.
The discrepancies come in all pairings of family members. Sometimes it's the parents who either because of an illness or advancing age will want to talk to their grown children. Sometimes it's the grown children who see their elderly parents starting to decline, they can see the writing on the wall and they need more information. Usually the most difficult are the spouses. For example, the husband does not want to talk about these things, so the wife has to get a support team. Maybe she needs to start with her children, her sister or parents, but she needs to get a support system.
When these conversations have not taken place and the dying process begins, especially if the dying person cannot speak, it becomes much more difficult. Problems will ensue, as if it isn't difficult enough to lose somebody that you love.