Close-up view of a pen writing on lined paper

Isn’t it time to write that letter to your loved one?

Posted on 03/12/2019

Dear Reader,

Over the years, we’ve learned that one of the most powerful ways someone can express their wishes is through writing a letter. That’s why we are encouraging everyone to write by snail mail or email to their near and dear. A letter is, after all, a great way to share our wishes for end-of-life care. Maybe your letter will be like the one Karen Boudreau wrote to her family, guiding them through the choices to make if they’re ever faced with a decision about her end-of-life care – and reassuring them that “It’s OK” if they just do their best.

Or, it might be like Katy Butler’s “Dear Medical Advocate” letter, where she gives specific guidance in case she becomes unable to make her own medical decisions due to dementia. You may even may find it easier to work from one of the Stanford Letter Project templates. Maybe it will be in your own voice, dedicated to your own loved ones.

To get started, think about who you want to write to – it could be your family, or your spouse, or a friend, or the person you’ve chosen to be your health care proxy.

Then just start writing: What’s most important for them to keep in mind if they have to make decisions about your care? What guidance can you give them about what you do and don’t want? Your family will be grateful to have this letter and hear your voice in their ear if they have to make decisions for you.

We’ll be collecting as many letters as we can and hope to share different examples with you as we receive them. If you’re willing to have us share yours, please send it our way (conversationproject@ihi.org). The first ten submissions will receive a TCP Talking Matters pin.

Yours Truly,

The Conversation Project

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