With the new year upon us, one resolution we should all have is to have a conversation with our loved ones about what we want to happen at the end of life. All the changes, medical breakthroughs, advances in care for diseases, do not change the fact that all of us, at some point, are still going to die. We are uncomfortable with this truth, and as a result do not make our wishes known, and most of us prefer not to talk about it.
During the last week of December, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced they will begin offering “some of the newest and most comprehensive end-of life benefits in the nation, aiming to prod patients and health care providers to discuss death openly and expand services to help people live out their last days,” according to a Dec. 28 article in the Boston Globe. Medicare will also begin covering these conversations, no matter when patients want to have them.
Why are these conversations so important? If your loved ones know what your wishes are and what is important to you, it can make decision-making at a very emotional time easier for all. All our journeys through life are unique, as is a patient’s journey with mesothelioma. There are unexpected twists and turns. However, knowing what your loved one, and you want the end to look like, can make this time comforting.
To help start these conversations, there is a non-profit group called The Conversation Project. The organization’s goal is to have these conversations with our loved ones so that our wishes are followed. They offer a starter kit and suggestions on how to have these difficult conversations. The web site reports that 90% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end of life care is important, but only 27% have actually done so.
The Conversation Project would like to move these conversations from the ICU to the kitchen table. From experience I can tell you many conversations that have been held over the years in the ICU have included quotes such as: “We never discussed dying,” “He didn’t want to upset me with talking about death,” and “I always thought I would go before him.” And many more from family members too confused and frightened to be faced with this challenge.
Having these conversations before time is critical does not mean that you have stopped fighting mesothelioma, rather, it means you have taken control of an important part of your unique life.
Let’s make 2016 the year that we raise that figure from 27% to 100% and have an end-of-life conversation, in each of our own unique ways, communicating our end of life wishes to our loved ones.
If you have any questions regarding any aspect of your mesothelioma care, feel free to email me at [email protected].