When is the right time to have that “difficult conversation?”

We Procrastinate.  We’re not proud of it, be we all do it.  It’s no secret that many of us “hit the ground running” each day; come up for air on weekends and marvel, perplexed and vexed, at the passage of time.  No wonder talking “face to face” has been put on hold.  Multi-tasking and technological advances, such as voicemail, email, facebook, tweeting and text-messaging, have nearly rendered dialogue as an archaic art form.

And yet, we know there are really important circumstances that warrant more than a perfunctory “fly by” chat with our spouse, child, colleague or friend.  Serious illness is one of the critical issues requiring a deliberate and sensitive discussion with our loved ones.  The value of having a true “heart to heart” talk with our family regarding our health, health care wishes and future health care cannot be underestimated.

A recent survey, conducted by the Conversation Project, reported that 90% of people say that talking with their loved ones about end-of-life care is important, but only 27% have actually done so.

80% of people say that if seriously ill, they would want to talk to their doctor about end-of-life care. 7% report having had an end-of-life conversation with their doctor.

Similarly, 70% of people surveyed say they want to die at home, but in reality, 70% die in hospitals or institutions.

I would urge everyone to make the time for meaningful, albeit challenging, conversations about life-changing issues.  If you find the task daunting, there are many wonderful social workers, counselors and clinicians in your community that are trained to help.  You’ll be so glad you did!


Marlina R. Schetting, MSW, LCSW, CT
Karen Ann Quinlan Hospice 

Photo of elderly woman tells a story for the doctor

When is the right time to have that difficult conversation?

Posted in Press Releases.