How can we better interact with death and dying in our culture? This is a question we, at Medalogix, are seeking to answer. As a Nashville analytics company, we believe communication, planning and home health and hospice technology can help make the end-of-life process just a little easier—and in turn, help us build a better relationship with death itself. I'd like to share a few of the resources I use regularly to equip others to communicate effectively and compassionately about the dying process.
By simply talking about death, each of us can take the first big step in bursting the taboo. One place to start is with an organization called The Conversation Project They provide a starter kit to begin talking about death and dying. The Conversation Project has a plethora of resources focusing on everything from family and doctor conversation starters to end-of-life choice decision helpers.
Like us, they want to help the hospice conversation begin "at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit."
Ellen Goodman, their co-founder and director, talks openly about her time with her mom at the end of her life and how this experience shaped her philosophy. "I realized only after her death how much easier it would have all been if I heard her voice in my ear as these decisions had to be made." With the right tools in place, we can confidently know our loved ones' desires after they are no longer able to communicate them.
Once you start the conversation, the next big step is to provide your loved ones with clear and legal documentation on what your choices and wishes are. One of the best place to start this process is Caring Info. To download the right forms for your state, and ease some of the burden from your loved ones when the time comes, see our post here.
With a few resources in our tool kit, we can know how to have the hospice conversation and ease some uncertainty surrounding the time of saying goodbye. Once we are more equipped, and have a plan in place, conversations can flow freely and the natural dying process may not be quite so daunting.
Here are two more resources for care providers, physicians and others helping out with end of life decisions:
Vital Talk is a great website helping care providers hone their skills presenting difficult news and promoting honest conversations for end-of-life decision making.
Hospice in a Minute, a free app available for iPhone and Android devices, is one of the best resources I have found to help clinicians have a handy way to access hospice and communication resources for end-of-life conversations.