Engaging with Grace this Thanksgiving

As you gather together with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, what are you going to talk about? I am guessing that the topic end of life choices will not be on the list of conversation starters. But perhaps it can and should be. While none of us knows the exact choices we will need to make for ourselves or a loved one at the end of life, we can open an ongoing conversation about what is important for us, what we value, and what are our wishes. As someone who has had to face end of life choices in both my professional life and in my personal life, beginning the conversation around the dining room table is much more compassionate, and empowering than beginning the dialog in the intensive care unit.

For the past three years, I have been participating in the Engage with Grace Blog Rally at the invitation of Paul Levy, CEO and President of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston and am thrilled to see that the number of health care bloggers supporting this effort has grown exponentially each year. As we consider the exciting possibilities of participatory medicine and an increased desire for more shared decision making between health care providers and patients/families, we also must recognize that we need to ask about our loved ones wishes for medical care and intervention; understanding that they may not be identical to our own. Please join me and my family as we Engage with Grace this Thanksgiving with one slide and five questions.

With gratitude,

Things we are grateful for this year

For three years running now, many of us bloggers have participated in what we’ve called a “blog rally” to promote Engage With Grace – a movement aimed at making sure all of us understand , communicate, and have honored our end-of-life wishes.

The rally is timed to coincide with a weekend when most of us are with the very people with whom we should be having these unbelievably important conversations – our closest friends and family.

At the heart of Engage With Grace are five questions designed to get the conversation about end-of-life started. We’ve included them at the end of this post. They’re not easy questions, but they are important – and believe it or not, most people find they actually enjoy discussing their answers with loved ones. The key is having the conversation before it’s too late.

This past year has done so much to support our mission to get more and more people talking about their end-of-life wishes. We’ve heard stories with happy endings … and stories with endings that could’ve (and should’ve) been better. We’ve stared down political opposition. We’ve supported each other’s efforts. And we’ve helped make this a topic of national importance.

So in the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend, we’d like to highlight some things for which we’re grateful:

Thank you to Atul Gawande for writing such a fiercely intelligent and compelling piece on “letting go” – it is a work of art, and a must read.

Thank you to whomever perpetuated the myth of “death panels” for putting a fine point on all the things we don’t stand for, and in the process, shining a light on the right we all have to live our lives with intent – right through to the end.

Thank you to TEDMED for letting us share our story and our vision.

And of course, thank you to everyone who has taken this topic so seriously, and to all who have done so much to spread the word, including sharing The One Slide.

Engage with Grace: One Slide Project