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 difficult conversation. Many of us don’t think we need to consider important final decisions when health is good. 

For a young, healthy person, these conversations are probably 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 begin end-of-life discussions early – as young 18. The earlier your wishes are documented, the better.

Sure, it’s natural 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. Making your wishes and those of your family members known helps ensure the end of your life is 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 ensure 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 as soon as possible rather than waiting.
  • Empower. Encourage others to begin the conversation about advance directives.

Need more inspiration before tackling the big conversation? Check out Compassion & Choices. leaving site icon This leading national nonprofit organization works to improve care and expand end-of-life choices. For more than 30 years, they’ve been nurturing people’s quality of life and given them added peace of mind in their final days. Today, they are helping change attitudes, practices and policies so everyone can access the information and options they need to have more control and comfort in their final days.

Sources: Facing the Elephant in the Room, leaving site icon Begin the Conversation, 2021; End of Life Care Planningleaving site icon Compassion & Choices, 2021.

Originally published 5/26/2016; Revised 2021