Communicate Your Wishes

Communicate Your Wishes

Experience has shown that it is not enough to just take care of the Essentials and document your Personal Preferences. You also need to share the feelings behind those decisions with others. If you don’t, they may not understand why you made the choices you did, and feel hesitant to carry out your end-of-life wishes.

A first step could be to write a letter in your own words sharing the reasoning behind your decisions, and make copies for family members and friends. This is in addition to completing the legal advance directive documents, and making sure that the right people have copies.

The second step will be to have a conversation with your closest family members, so that they hear it directly from you. This will also give them the opportunity to ask questions, and to let you know whether they are comfortable with all of your decisions, or if they would feel hesitation to carry out any of your wishes.

Who Needs to Know?
First of all, your family members, closest friends, and designated healthcare agents. They are generally the ones who will be most directly affected at the end of your life. And they will have the greatest influence on whether your wishes are followed or not.

We also recommend that you give copies of your letter to your primary healthcare providers, along with copies of your healthcare advance directive documents. That way, they will have the same information to refer to when they are in discussions with your family or healthcare agent.

If you have taken a Wise Conversations Workshop, you will also have your Wise Conversations Planner, which can include some of your thoughts and feelings about end-of-life choices. It may be helpful to share your Planner with family members or friends.

Giving Your Gift
Sharing your feelings about death and how you wish to be treated at the end of your life can also inspire others to take the same three steps of taking care of Essentials, documenting Personal Preferences, and communicating their Wishes. This is a second gift that your planning can offer to family and friends.

If you don’t know how to begin communicating your wishes to another, one option is to tell them about the DeathWise website. Then, a few days later, you can ask them what they thought about the site. This could be enough to open the door for you to start a conversation, explain the thinking behind your decisions, and share how you have documented them.

Step 1: Take Care of the Essentials
Step 2: Document Your Personal Preferences

Read DeathWise Blog Posts
Talking with Doctors
Having the Conversation
It’s Just a Piece of Paper
Helping Families Let Go