Starting the Conversation About End-of-Life Care

How we want to die is the most important and costly conversation America isn’t having


Dying is a universal experience. Nearly everyone has a story about a good death or a hard death among those they love. The difference between these experiences often rests on whether we have shared our wishes for how we want to spend our final days.

How we want to die is the most important and costly conversation America isn’t having.

Consider the facts

More than 90 percent of people think that it is important to have conversations about end-of-life care with their loved ones, yet less than 30 percent have done so. Similarly, 70 percent of people say they want to die at home, but in reality, 70 percent die in hospitals or institutions.

Planning your final days is never easy, but it’s an invaluable gift to give your loved ones. These discussions can be among the richest and most intimate that friends and family share. Studies show that when there is a meaningful conversation about end-of-life choices, survivors report feeling less guilt and less depression, and having an easier process of grieving. Helping families overcome the communication barrier is the goal of The Conversation Project, a public engagement campaign with the mission to have everyone’s end-of-life care wishes expressed and respected.

There’s a lot to consider, from how much information the doctor should share with the family, to which family member will be the primary decision maker. Thinking through these decisions before a medical crisis — “at the kitchen table,” and not in the intensive care unit — will help you make decisions based on what you value most, without the influence of stress and fear.

There are a million reasons to avoid having the conversation, but it’s critically important and you can do it! Here are some ways to get started.


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