May 9, 2012

Introducing The Conversation Project

What if every citizen’s end-of-live wishes could be expressed and respected in a way that was simple and transformative? Would you have the conversation about your views on a “good death” if you knew it would bring peace, security, and calm to your loved ones?

We are all mortal, yet as a society we have been painfully slow in recognizing and acknowledging how many of the people we love are not dying in a manner of their choosing: in comfort, among people who care about them, and engaged in what matters most for as long as possible.

Many Americans assume these conversations should and will take place between doctors and patients, but doctors are often uncomfortable and untrained in initiating these end-of-life discussions, so wishes are never expressed and words are never spoken. The Conversation Project fills a void by bringing these important conversations from the hospital bedside to the kitchen table, so patients’ choices drive the decisions rather than medical finances.

Our mission is to provide individuals, communities and society at large with the knowledge, wisdom and grace needed to have what can be a painful conversation. The Conversation Project is your forum for sharing stories, a coordinated messaging and communications effort, a social marketing campaign, and a web home base for conversation starters. It’s where you will find guides to help you ensure your end-of-life wishes are respected. 

We are not interested in a temporary change, but rather a full cultural shift that will enable us to remove the stigma and uncomfortable nature of the topic, enabling us to have the conversation within our own families but also, collectively, across cultures, workplace communities and neighborhoods.

Our goal is to help people of all ages engage loved ones, care providers, clergy, and others. Rather than promote a ‘desired’ action, the Conversation Project plays the role of catalyst and advocate for families and circles having these conversations. Those who have had The Conversation report the benefits far exceed any preconceived expectations. We know this is hard, but we also know the number of people who want to have these discussions will continue to grow.

We ask you to join us by having The Conversation with your loved ones. We promise never to steer your decisions, only to support and encourage your discussions.

To learn more, follow @convoproject on Twitter. The Conversation Project website will launch in June.