Deseret News: When Ellen Goodman’s dad was dying of terminal cancer at age 57, his wife bought him a set of luggage as a birthday gift. Denial, says Goodman, a retired Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, ran fiercely through her mom’s veins. And when her mom was dying herself decades later, Goodman was flummoxed about what decisions her mother would want her to make about end-of-life care.
“End-of-life” was one of the few conversations they never had while they still had time and her mom was well enough.
“The last thing my mom would have wanted was to force me into such bewildering, painful uncertainty about her life and death,” Goodman later wrote. “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. If only we had talked about it. And so I never want to leave the people I love that uneasy and bewildered about my own wishes. It’s time for us to talk.”
After her mom died, Goodman and Len Fishman, the CEO of Hebrew SeniorLife, launched “The Conversation Project” in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. It’s an web-based campaign and resource depository designed to smash myths and break barriers that keep people from talking about how they want to die.