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How can I talk to my doctor about end-of-life issues?

Barbara Coombs Lee
Hospice Nursing Specialist

Unfortunately, your doctor is unlikely to broach the subject, so it’s up to you. You might wonder how to begin this conversation without seeming morbid.

I humbly offer several openers for your consideration:

  • “I just read about a study that found all that high technology at the end of life doesn’t work and just causes suffering. Do you know I wouldn’t want that?”
  • “My relative (or friend or acquaintance) had a terrible death, hooked up to tubes and machines. I think I’d just want to be home with my family. What do you think about a decision like that?”
  • “I love so much about my life—being active, loving my family. If none of that were possible anymore, I’d like to go out peacefully, without a lot of heroics. Does that fit with your medical philosophy?”

If the conversation reveals a physician seriously out of sync with your values and beliefs, find another whom you feel you can trust to honor your wishes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.