Health & wellness

Tips on starting the end-of-life conversation

There are growing efforts — some grassroots, others state-initiated — to help ease anxiety around end-of-life conversations and explain the often-confusing medical terms and choices patients face at this time. Here are details on some of them:

The Conversation Project


Launched in 2012 by a group of media, clergy, and medical specialists to help people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care. The website includes a “Starter Kit” that includes tips on how to jump-start the often-difficult conversation with a family member or friend, such as “I need your help with something.”

Engage with Grace



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Launched in 2008 by a group of Massachusetts health-care executives, the online campaign encourages bloggers each Thanksgiving to blog about end-of-life conversations. The website includes five questions designed to spur conversations. It also has links to information about how to create documents to record end-of-life preferences.



Launched as a pilot project in 2010 in Worcester, the Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment is a statewide initiative to train health-care professionals on initiating end-of-life conversations to help patients complete a two-page legal document that details specific treatments each patient would want or decline if acutely ill.

Kay Lazar can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.