Read. Reflect. Share.
Everyone has a story. About losing someone close. About what it was like to have the conversation. About not talking about wishes until it was too late.
Explore these stories that others have shared, and if you’d like, tell us your own story. Hearing about other people’s experiences can be a good way to get your own conversation started.
Click below to hear the audio of Frank Lilley’s conversation with his stepfather, David Plant, about approaching the end of his life.
It was recorded as part of StoryCorps’ Legacy Initiative – an effort to collect interviews with people who have life-threatening conditions.
Also, we encourage you to Share your own story about your father.
We met in the library where I was studying for a competitive exam while he was a doctor preparing for his USMLE. I was studying French on that day when he took the initiative to start the conversation. He recommended some French books and took me to the aisle to help me find the right book. There, he asked my name and I asked his. I didn’t realize that he wanted to have the conversation. After that, we met a... Read More
By Joanne pegna
In 1979 I moved from Indiana, my home state, to CA., a state I experienced briefly when I enlisted in the Navy at age 18. I told myself as I walked the streets of San Francisco, “Carol, one day you will live near the Golden Gate Bridge.” I was happy to have left Indiana as it was a state that held very dark memories for me. Now at age 75.11, I have experienced writing my “life story.” The only member... Read More
My mum was diagnosed with larynx cancer , she had already had breast cancer and that was fully cured. She had the larynx removed in 2006. It was a very very difficult time the years that followed lots of hospital appointments ,radiation , operation to stretch her throat and very scary for her living with the fear of the stoma getting blocked, which it did with mucus and she had a valve to help her speak, in 2009 she was... Read More
By Melanie Brodrick
My wonderful great-aunt was widowed in 1986; her husband died of a sudden aneurysm. Her son moved 8 hours away and rarely visited, and for the last 14 years of her life, she spent holidays with our family. Despite her age, she was wonderfully active in her community. My mother and I took her to appointments, helped her move to assisted living, and made sure her needs were met. Great aunt was a very social lady and her diminishing eyesight... Read More
I spoke quite openly with my parents and children. The children were in their early teens and found it a bit hard and thought I was joking! I told them that if possible , I want to take care of myself for as long as possible, should I become terminally ill, I dont want unnecessary medical intervention. I dont want anybody with me when I die. I want my ashes put in a Pinot Grigio bottle and for my children... Read More
As an 80 year old person I have made my peace with my maker. Last year I had a life saving operation where a large cancerous tumor was successfully removed from from my left kidney. This convinced me that I am not going to live forever. There are issues that concern me. It is not dying. It is about being stricken with something like Altzheimers which will turn me into a burden on my family and the society I live... Read More
I grew up with the blessing of living near all four of my grandparents. As they grew aged, they moved in with our family. When my maternal grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer, I was in nursing school studying the ideas of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross which I brought home to share with him. I was still asleep the morning he died at home with my mother holding his hand, but I think that the early conversations we had helped to frame... Read More
My husband, Hank, had been failing gradually over the last few months, but had always “bounced back” from other health problems. This time was different, and when he had to be hospitalized, it became apparent that he wouldn’t be able to come home to resume his life. Thankfully, we had had “the conversations”, all our papers were in order, and we knew what to do. The end came gradually, with nothing done to contradict his wishes. He was not afraid,... Read More
By Kevin Haselhorst, MD - Wishestodiefor.com
My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer when she was 78 years old. Her doctor gently told her that she had 3 to 6 months to live and offered her radiation and chemotherapy. She said she’d ‘think about it’ and as she was discharged from the hospital, she told me she didn’t want to go back into the hospital and didn’t want to have chemo or radiation. I asked her if she was afraid of anything and she said she... Read More
Routine urinary infections can be life-threatening in elderly patients. Last year my always-organized mother developed disorganized thinking in conjunction with a urinary infection. Over our weekly phone call she claimed that her new medication did not make her feel right. She neglected to mention having a fever was the reason for this medication. The reality of Mom’s apparent confusion indicated she was slipping and not destined to live forever. We needed to have a conversation. I needed to create an... Read More