Here's your portable guide to the conversation.
Download and print your Starter Kit PDF
NEW! You can now type your answers directly into the Starter Kit, save your personalized version, finish or change it later, and email it to family and friends.

New! A Starter Kit designed to help parents of seriously ill children who want guidance about "having the conversation" with their children.
Download & print your Pediatric Starter Kit PDF

Starter Kit also available in Spanish
Descargar e imprimir el Starter Kit en español
Starter Kit also available in French
Téléchargez et imprimez votre Starter Kit PDF
Starter Kit also available in Mandarin
下載並打印你的Starter Kit PDF
How to use the Starter Kit
  • Move straight through by clicking the arrows at the bottom of the page, or navigate to the section you’d like to explore by clicking on the progress bar at the top of the page.
  • Get extra help through every step by downloading and printing out the Starter Kit PDF from the top of the page. You can now type your answers directly into the Starter Kit, save your personalized version, finish or change it later, and email it to family and friends.
Remember:
  • This can be the first of many conversations, so you don’t have to cover everyone or everything right now.
Now that you've had the conversation with your loved ones, are you ready to talk with your doctor?
Download and print the How to Talk to Your Doctor PDF
Also available in Spanish
Descargar e imprimir el How to Talk to Your Doctor en español
Also available in French
Téléchargez et imprimez le Comment parler à votre médecin PDF

Step 3: Go

When you’re ready to have the conversation, think about the basics.

Who do you want to talk to? Who do you trust to speak for you?

When would be a good time to talk?

Where would you feel comfortable talking?

What do you want to be sure to say?

How to start

Here are some ways you could break the ice:

“I need your help with something.”

“I was thinking about what happened to _____, and it made me realize…”

“Even though I’m okay right now, I’m worried that _____ and I want to be prepared.”

“I need to think about the future. Will you help me?”

What to talk about

You may already know what you want to talk about in your first conversation, and that’s great. If you’d like more guidance, here are some important questions to consider:

  1. When you think about the last phase of your life, what’s most important to you?
    How would you like this phase to be?
  2. Would you prefer to be actively involved in decisions about your care?
    Or would you rather have your doctors do what they think is best?
  3. Are there circumstances that you would consider worse than death?
    (Long-term need of a breathing machine or feeding tube, not being able to recognize your loved ones)
  4. Where do you want (or not want) to receive care?
    (Home, nursing facility, hospital)
  5. What kinds of aggressive treatment would you want (or not want)?
    (Resuscitation if your heart stops, breathing machine, feeding tube)
  6. When would it be okay to shift from a focus on curative care to a focus on comfort care alone?

You can find more questions in the “Go” section of your Starter Kit PDF.

Remember:

  • Be patient. Some people may need a little more time to think.
  • You don’t have to steer the conversation; just let it happen.
  • Don’t judge. A “good” death means different things to different people.
  • Nothing is set in stone. You and your loved ones can always change your minds as circumstances shift.
  • This is the first of many conversations—you don’t have to cover everyone or everything right now.

PLEASE NOTE: This document does not seek to provide legal advice.

Now, just go for it! Each conversation will empower you and your loved ones. You are getting ready to help each other live and die in a way that you choose.
Once you’ve had your first conversation, move to the last step—write your wishes down and keep talking.

Help us make this kit better.

Tell us what you think works, what doesn't work, and what else you need.