Getting the Discussion Started is the Hardest Part

Personal Finance March 22, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF

"It's kind of like, hey, I'm bullet-proof, nothing is going to happen to me. But it's something to really think about." - Jerry

Few of us find it easy to talk to family members about end-of-life issues. We may have ideas about what kinds of medical treatment we would or would not want and who we would trust to make the best possible decisions for us when we are no longer able to make them for ourselves. Sharing these thoughts with our families can seem awkward, and approaching other family members about what they would want seems even more difficult. It's not surprising, then, that we have many reasons for delaying preparation of our "advance directives"—our living wills and our appointments of health-care agents to speak on our behalf when death is imminent.

Read on, or click on the video buttons below for discussion strategies.

You'll be living forever, right?
Lydia, grandmother

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Lydia -- You'll be living forever, right?


Lydia, grandmother
Lydia, grandmother

Transcript: "You just don't want to face it that one day you're going to die. You don't want to think about that. You just want to think that you're going to be living forever and that's not the case."






No talking about sex, politics, or advance directives
Tom, manager of chaplaincy services

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Tom -- No talking about sex, politics, or advance directives


Tom, manager of chaplaincy services
Tom, manager of chaplaincy services

Transcript: "People kiddingly will say, you know, we can talk about anything but sex and politics and I think you can probably add dying and advanced directives safely to that list. I think we're uncomfortable talking about this. I think that some people have a sort of thought that, if we talk about it, it may happen."




What's a living will, anyway?
Louard, job trainer

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Louard -- What's a living will, anyway?


Louard, job trainer
Louard, job trainer

Transcript: "Many people are really unaware of just what the living will is for. You hear ‘will’ all the time, but ‘living will’, what does that mean to the average person? ‘Will’ for death, ‘living will’ for health care—and in fact I don't think the average person on the street really has that in his mind. You're hearing ‘will’ and you don't hear the ‘living will’ part; you just hear the ‘will’ part and you're thinking, oh, boy, I'm going to die, what's going to happen to all of my money, where's my house going, the kids are going to be fighting over everything. But you're not thinking about, well now, what happens if I go into a coma, what's going to happen to me, what's going to take place, who's going to take care of me, things like that."