The Conversation Project: Removing the Awkwardness of Discussing Death?

I recently stumbled on an amazing website that I think could help a lot of families called The Conversation Project. There are some topics that are very hard to discuss, most especially money and death. Yet most people recognize it is important topic to cover as parents age and/or children are born and wishes need to be honored and protected. This site seeks to bridge some of those gaps to help people have these important conversations. Here is their message:

“The Conversation Project is a public engagement initiative with a goal that is both simple and transformative: to have every person’s wishes for end-of-life care expressed and respected. Too many people die in a manner they would not choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain. It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. We believe that the place for this to begin is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit—with the people we love, before it’s too late.”

According to The Conversation Project’s National Survey in 2018 the need for these discussions is not imagined, “While 92% of Americans say it’s important to discuss their wishes for end-of-life care, only 32% have had such a conversation. 95% of Americans say they would be willing to talk about their wishes, and 53% even say they’d be relieved to discuss it.”

So how does it work?

The Conversation Project began 2010, when Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ellen Goodman and a group of colleagues and concerned media, clergy, and medical professionals gathered to share stories of “good deaths” and “hard deaths” within their own circle of loved ones. Goodman founded the nonprofit after serving as caregiver to her mother with Alzheimer’s disease for many years. She and her mother had never discussed end-of-life care, but in the end the care decisions fell to Ellen. “I realized only after her death how much easier it would have all been if I heard her voice in my ear as these decisions had to be made,” she recalls.

The Conversation Project has created a number of Starter Kits, which they describe as, “a useful tool to help you have the conversation with a family member, friend, or other loved one about your – or their – wishes regarding end-of-life care.” The kits cover various topics specifically and are available in several languages. All of the Starter Kits are available to download and print for free. 

Topics include:

  • Conversation Starter Kit
  • How to Choose a Health Care Proxy & How to Be a Health Care Proxy
  • Conversation Starter Kit for Loved Ones of People with Alzheimer’s/Dementia
  • How To Talk To Your Doctor
  • Pediatric Starter Kit: Having the Conversation with Your Seriously Ill Child

Visit their website HERE and don’t forget once you have had these conversations, the next step is to memorialize them properly with an estate planning attorney of your choice, such as Seiter Law.