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Let’s Talk Turkey
Talking about end of life issues with a parent can be an extremely
diﬃcult discussion. However, maintaining dignity at the end of
life is the most precious gift we can give to someone we love.
We understand that starting the conversation is often the
toughest part. So we’ve come up with a number of “conversation
starters” you can employ to get things going while everyone is
gathered for Thanksgiving.
This isn’t a script for every instance. But these are simple
suggestions on how to begin the dialogue.
Share this document with friends an other relatives so the
conversation continues and dignity prevails.
”Mom, you know how much I love you. And I know that if you get sick,
you don't want to be burden on us kids or the family. I know you want
to stay independent for as long as possible. Tell me what you want me to
do if you get really sick. What matters most to you at the end of life?
What can I do to protect you and your dignity?"
"Dad, I remember when Grandpa had his stroke. You had to make some
pretty tough decisions and it all happened very quickly. If something like that
happened to you or Mom, how would you have us do things diﬀerently? Is
there anything you can tell me that would help me make decisions on your
“A colleague of mine just lost his
mother. She had a long illness and
endured a lot of pain. Just so I
know, if you were to develop a painful condition that can’t be cured, do
you want us to look into hospice? Should I tell the doctors to give you
treatment no matter how painful it might be, if there’s even a small
chance that you will live?”
“Dad, I need an important favor from you. Will you write down your
wishes for me? If you were unconscious and I had to make decisions for
you, I want to know what you would want me to do. Would you want a
feeding tube? A ventilator? Are there things your own parents went
through that you would like to avoid?”
“Mom, I know I’m relatively young. But I just made this list of instructions
for my wife and kids so they’ll know what to do if I have a big medical
setback or accident. What do you think? Would you write this same set of
instructions, or would you do it diﬀerently?”
"Have you ever thought about whether you wanted to be cremated or buried?
When my friend’s mother passed they didn’t use a traditional funeral home. I
didn’t know there were other people who could help. The family coordinated
a fantastic event celebrating their mother’s life along with the cremation service. Her mom even helped plan some
of the service while she was still alive."