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Mortal Matters

The gift of conversation about a topic rarely discussed

Adapted from the Mortal Matters blog on

Are you still finalizing year-end holiday season gifts for special loved ones? Even if you already found something for everyone, The Conversation Project (which is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care) has an additional idea that fits in anyone’s budget — the gift of conversation.

And not just any conversation, but “the conversation” that we all mean to have but that most of us keep putting off.

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Yes, we all care deeply that the latter part of the lives of those we love is the way they would want. Yes, we all know that if we haven’t talked about that in advance, it may not happen. Yes, we know how much we will then regret that “it was always too early until it was too late.”

But the truth is that it is hard to get started.

So The Conversation Project is offering all of us not just an idea, but simple concrete help — a gift kit for anyone who has e-mail. All you need to do is visit the Gift of Conversation webpage, personalize their simple introduction, and send the message.

They offer this message for you to personalize:

I want to talk with you about what matters most to each of us at the end of our lives. Let’s talk about it together.

When you hit “send,” their conversation starter kit is automatically attached, along with this tagline:

Learn more at

You might be even gentler than their proposed message — maybe something like:

Have you heard about “The Conversation Project”? I’d love to know what you think. . .

It literally only will take you a minute.

And while you’re at it, you might also e-mail other friends about this, so that they, too, can finally do, for and with their loved ones, something very important, something they’ve likely been meaning to do for a long time.

Dr. Lachlan Forrow is Director of Ethics Programs and Director of Palliative Care Programs at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Read his blog at
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