So says William Colby, from the Center for Practical Bioethics. But, how few of us actually do have that conversation before the onset of death, or God forbid, an unexpected accident or illness? Nowadays, it is fairly common for pregnant couples to start a college fund even before the baby is born, and yet, death is more inevitable than a student's desire to go to college.
I think we focus so much on our dreams, hopes and wishes, and perhaps fear discussing a process we don't like, in case we bring it to fruition in our lives. (amazing how we think we can bring negative events into our lives by thinking about it, and yet, don't have the same certainly about our ability to bring good into our lives!) The sad reality is however, that as a culture, we have no idea how to cope with death, much less what to say when someone we know is grieving.
It is thought that with improved medical care, most Americans will die in a hospital or some kind of institution, and not at home in their own bed, as it was in days of old. Added to that, the end will likely come after much intervention, as the medical profession intervenes when natural causes of death would dictate the end a lot sooner.
One reason to have a conversation is that should an accident befall you or your loved ones, you can really know, and not second guess what types of intervention and life sustainings procedures are acceptable.
Talking about it in a relaxed setting over a cup of tea may be a little uncomfortable, but once the conversation is over, it can be put to bed and not discussed again until necessary.
At that time, you may well be glad that you know the right thing to do and use your time to mourn without the anguish of wondering what kriya or action to take.
In the meantime after the discussion, you can get on with living life to the full.
Camella Nair has created "Death Insight & Conversation Cards" to help this process. She also hosts a Facebook page, "Good Death Cafe", where topics of conversation and items of interest and inspiration can be posed.