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How to Discuss End-of-Life Care

Friends with coffee relaxing togetherHow to Discuss Your End-of-Life Care

Talking about your healthcare wishes with your family is a gift. If you become very ill and can’t voice your own opinions, your loved ones and medical team must make important decisions about your care. These decisions may have serious impact on your end-of-life experience.

Creating an advance directive and learning how to discuss end-of-life care with your loved ones ensure your wishes will be honored and, importantly, unburdens your loved ones from guessing about your preferences.

End-of-Life Conversation Starters

To get started, spend time thinking about the conversation before you dive in. The sample end-of-life conversation starters below will help you in initiating the conversation and understanding which information is most important.

Think about:

  • What matters most to you at the end of life?
  • Who will be the family member to speak for you?
  • Are there treatments you want or don’t want?
  • Do you want to spend your last days at home?
  • Who do you want to be surrounded by?

Additional End-of-Life Conversation Guides

In addition to the end-of-life conversation guides above, Samaritan has gathered resources from trusted sources to help you through the process. Our collection below of recommended conversation starters can help you learn how to make end-of-life decisions and discuss them with your loved ones. You can also speak with an advisor 24/7 to discuss end—of-life care now: (800) 229-8183. 

AARP – Advanced Planning Glossary This provides explanations of some legal terms you may find helpful when discussing end-of-life care.

BBC Radio – We Need to Talk about Death  Topics include death fears, pain, what to expect, burial, and much more.

Goals of Care Coalition  Samaritan’s community partner provides valuable resources regarding how to discuss end-of-life care as well as healthcare wishes with your healthcare providers. 

Conversation of Your Life  This South Jersey Mayors Wellness Campaign program focuses on engaging communities in fruitful dialogue regarding end-of-life wishes through advance care planning.

Conversations of a Lifetime  Learn how to talk about end of life.


Click here for a guide about how to discuss end-of-life care
with someone who doesn’t want to talk about it.

The Conversation Project
The Conversation Project has fostered a grassroots public campaign to make it easier to initiate conversations about dying. The project’s user-friendly site offers a downloadable end-of-life conversation starter kit and other resources.

Your Life, Your Wishes – It starts with a conversation. 
Having confidence in responding to whatever life brings you is often a matter of simple, timely and thoughtful preparation. Your approach to your own medical needs should be no different.

patient and doctor on couchGo Wish 
Go Wish is a card game that helps you find words to talk about what is important if you or a loved one should find yourself living a life shortened by serious illness.

Deathwise is passionate about motivating people to talk about, make decisions, plan for the end of their lives and then documenting their wishes in an advance directive to ensure their preferences are communicated to their medical services providers, family and friends.  Wise Conversations >>

Prepare For Your Care 
PREPARE is a website that uses videos and stories to teach people how to identify their values and goals for medical care and to make medical decisions.