Having Difficult Conversations

Hispanic couple discuss end-of-life wishes with daughter

Talking about life-limiting illness isn’t easy. We don’t want to rob our loved ones of hope. We think that maybe, by avoiding the conversation, we can protect them – and ourselves – from suffering, from anxiety, from the unknown.

But the very conversations we avoid are the ones that give us some measure of control. Sharing our worries and wishes brings connection and understanding. Exploring care alternatives and end-of-life options  gives us the facts we need to choose the best path.

The Power of Conversation

Talking about serious illness offers opportunities for you to control the things you can. Each family’s experience is unique, but these steps are key: 

Find someone you trust. 
Surround yourself with allies and advocates who can offer the emotional and practical support you need, and help you navigate the search for information and options. 

Ask questions. 
No questions are off limits.  Ask the people you love about their concerns and desires. Ask your physician about what is happening, what to expect, and what can be done.  Ask about alternatives for care and end-of-life options. And keep asking as long as you have questions.

Share your wishes. 
“I don’t want to be a burden.” “I want to go on a trip.” “I want to die at home.”  Be candid with caregivers about your wishes to guide the kind of support you want.  These goals may change over the course of an illness, so revisit the conversation.

Start now. 
There’s no “right” time to talk about the multitude of issues regarding the end-of-life, but it’s more helpful when conversations can be part of an ongoing process—instead of waiting until the situation has dramatically deteriorated or a crisis has occurred.  Discussing options at the beginning of a life-limiting illness can help you make choices in advance and guide your decision-making.

 

 

What Our Families Say

What you all do is amazing.  Thank you for all your help, support and guidance for my mother and family.  It was such a gift and a blessing to be with my mom and take care of her and to have her at home with my daughter and I.  We will never forget your kindness.  Thank you! ~ Patient's family

The services my husband and I received during his last stages of life were invaluable to us.  His primary wish at the end was to be at home.  I was very afraid that I couldn't grant that wish, but with the help of Pikes Peak Hospice he was able to be at home, where he was comfortable, until the very end.  I am also truly thankful for the grief counseling that you provided to me. ~ Patient's wife

Thank you for all your assistance during this time and for the care of my mother.  There are not enough compliments to give for the support, knowledge, bedside manner, courtesy and kindness. ~ Patient's daughter

 

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