Each Thanksgiving since 2008 I have donated my blog to an initiative called: Engage with Grace. This year is no exception. There is never the perfect opportunity to talk about end of life issues and it may seem especially incongruous on a holiday set aside for giving thanks, yet why not Thanksgiving? End of life discussions shouldn't be one size fits all or even one time conversations, they should evolve and change as life changes. They are talks from the heart, conversations about the values we hold dear, an opportunity to share our life narrative with our loved ones -- what better time than Thanksgiving weekend to share this gift of listening and sharing? So I invite you to do something a bit unconventional this Thanksgiving, perhaps begin a new tradition, alongside the green bean casserole, share Engage with Grace and let the conversation begin.
Most of us find ourselves pretty fascinating… flipping through photos
and slowing down for the ones where we’re included, tweeting our
favorite tidbits of information, facebook-ing progress on this or that…
We find other people captivating as well. In fact, there’s a meme
going around on facebook where people share a handful of things that
most people don’t know about them – and there’s a great joy in learning
these tidbits about the friends and family we think we know so well.
This Thanksgiving, we’re asking our friends and family to try this
exercise, but with a twist – we want to know how they’d answer just five
questions on their end-of-life preferences.
What? Are you CRAZY? Talk about how you’d want to die over
Thanksgiving? Yup – that’s exactly what we’re suggesting. You know
why? Because this is a conversation you absolutely want to have exactly
when you DON’T need to have it… and it’s a conversation you need to
have with your loved ones. Our hope for you this Thanksgiving is that
you’ll have the luxury of checking both those boxes.
As humans, we’re all pretty fascinating, and exploring what matters
to each of us under different circumstances can be a captivating
conversation…and captivating conversations are part of what turkey
dinners are all about. It’s also a vital one – there will be few times
in our lives where ‘getting it right’ is more important than at the end
There are also few greater gifts you can give to your loved ones, and
they to you, than making sure these lives we are living with such
ferocious intent have the luxury of ending the same way.
Engage with Grace
is a way to help get the conversation about end of life started – a way
to Engage in this topic with Grace. Just five simple questions about
our end of life preferences that we can all commit to being able to
answer – for ourselves, for our loved ones. Take a quick look – do you
know how you would answer? Could you answer for your loved ones?
There is no wrong answer – It’s only wrong if you don’t know your
answers … or if you haven’t shared them.
Coming together over the dinner table to talk about the important
stuff is part of our DNA…and it’s where so much of the good stuff
happens. We connect, we share, we learn, we laugh, we fall in love, out
of love, we fight and make up, we celebrate, we (maybe even) cry. If
this Thanksgiving turns out not to be your thing, then pick another
dinner. Check out the genius Death over Dinner
movement started by our dear friend Michael Hebb to help make that
happen. Thousands of dinners happening across the country – from cool
hipsters to the very dearest grandparents coming together to think hard,
eat well, and make sure we nail this end of life thing by making sure
we’re talking about it. We double dog dare you to have a Death Dinner –
and not enjoy it.
Know what else? What we want at the end of our lives often changes
as we go through them… a mum of toddlers may find she’d opt for more
intensive treatment options, while a great-grandfather may feel more
comfortable choosing quality of life related treatment… so have this
conversation once, then keep having it.
None of us are planning for anything less than living forever – so
until one of us is smart enough to make that happen (go Google!) – let’s
at least commit to this: we live our life with intent – we can end our
life with that same honor. 70% of us want to die at home, only 30% of
us do. Each of us will only die once – make sure you get to die the way
you want. Then make sure that’s a gift you give to your loved ones as
Just five questions. Just get started.
Could there be a more important conversation to have this Thanksgiving? Nope. Maybe that’s why they call it talkin’ turkey.