Conversation Starters - A New Approach to End of Life Discussions

Thinking about death can clarify our lives. Below, is a list of tools to make starting these difficult conversations a bit easier. Whether with your friends, family or patients – grab a cup of coffee, tea or a beer and get started. Many of these tools have been proven to decrease anxiety for families while providing a sense of peace in the midst of life’s toughest moments.



Consider The Conversation
Documentary film about the American struggle with communication and preparation for end of life, the film introduces you to patients and their family members as well as doctors, nurses, clergy and national experts on death and dying. Web site includes a downloadable discussion guide.
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Death Cafe’s
Embracing the conversation of death through a relaxed and safe setting to discuss death, drink tea and eat delicious cookie and cakes. Death Cafe’s are held all over the world.
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Departing Decisions – Guide / Workbook
A compilation of helpful articles on end of life planning, checklists to plan ahead, fill in the blank forms and directory of local service providers for the Portland Metro area.
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Let’s Have Dinner and Talk About Death
Call it a party planner of sorts, this online tool helps you create an dinner event to start the conversation about death with your guests of honor. The web site prompts you to answer questions about who will attend the dinner, what types of conversations you would like to have, video’s/articles to share with your guests and an template invitation to share with your dinner guests.
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My Gift of Grace
Facilitate a conversation about what matters most of through the use of 47 playing cards with thought provoking questions such as:
– If only one story is told at your memorial service, who should tell it?
– In order to provide you with the best care possible, what three non – medical facts should your doctor know about you?
– What music do you want to be listening to your last day alive?
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Oregon Health Decisions
Legally binding in Oregon, this in depth version of Oregon’s Advance Directive provides a variety of medical scenarios where someone maybe incapacitated and family/friends needs to make end of life decisions on their behalf.
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Ted Talks
A completion of videos from speakers worldwide, posing thought provoking questions, concepts and theories related to end of life and death.
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The Conversation Project
Dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end of life care, the Conversation Project starter kit was designed to prepare for the conversation, gather your thoughts, make a plan and have the talk. The printable forms give you the opportunity to share your values and beliefs through written exercises and surveys.
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The Five Wishes
Although, these forms are not legally binding in Oregon (as an Advanced Directive). The print and online tools are circulated throughout the US in over 35,000 organizations and meets the requirements of 42 states, including Washington.
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Threshold Thespians
Located in Medford, Oregon this group of thespians perform meaningful plays about end of life. Their most popular play is titled Who’s Death is it Anyway? Provides the audience with an in-depth look at one woman’s end of life choices. Performances are often done live, but they do have future plans to post video performances in the near future.
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