Understanding Your Health Choices: Conversations Before the Crisis
Seizing the moment-Using trigger points for conversations
In the conversation between Steven and his father, Steven took action after
going through the death of a friend. He used the experience as a conversation
starter, so that the issue did not come up "out of the blue." Personal
experience and current events, as well as art and culture, offer trigger points
for conversations. Here are some other possibilities:
"I know you saw that discussion last week on Oprah about the family who
wanted to discontinue the feeding tube for the mother, but they couldn't
because no one had signed the advance directive that was needed in that state.
I thought that was terrible. What would you want if you were in a situation
Deaths of Celebrities
"I remember how much Paul McCartney loved his wife, Linda, and how he
took care of her at home when she was dying of cancer. He had her family around
her, and her pets, I think, and he sang to her. That's so beautiful. When I
die, I want to be cared for at home. I know it was easier for Paul because he
has plenty of money, but I think anyone can get help from that hospice group.
So remember, I want you singing to me if I die. And I sure don't want to die in
a hospital. Do you?"
"I have been thinking about those young people killed and injured in
that bus accident. It's so heartbreaking when children die, and we just never
expect it. It made me realize that you don't know what I want if I'm in a car
accident. So I'm going to write it down. And I'd like to talk with you about
what you want."
"I met with our lawyer last week to be sure that my will is up-to-date.
I do this every three years, just in case something has changed, with me or
with the tax laws. The lawyer reminded me that there will be medical decisions
to make when I die, as well as financial decisions, and he asked me if I had
given my doctor any instructions. I've been putting this off, but I know I need
to decide. Can we talk about this? Have you thought about what you want? Will
you be willing to take responsibility for decisions if I can't act for
Families differ. Some people value information and discussion, and like to
examine expert advice. In a family like this, sharing an article or newspaper
editorial might work. Some families might deal better with a movie or a story
that is open-ended. This could be a better place to start. You could say
something like, "I wonder if you would watch this video, and tell me what
you feel about it. It made me think about some hard things." A movie, a
book, a painting-works of art allow for personal interpretation. The things
that your family likes most to talk about will be the best conversation