Monday, May 10, 2010

Conversation Stoppers

I attended a workshop recently---When Death Comes: A Contemplative Approach to Compassionate Care. Both presenters, Joan Halifax and Frank Ostaseski, stressed the importance of having conversations about dying and death. I found myself thinking about ways we prevent these conversations.

I have a sense of why we don’t want to talk about illness, aging, dying, etc. Some fear it will make these catastrophes happen. Some fear (and quite rightly) that it will strain already strained relationships. Some of us have never learned how to talk about difficult matters. It can be hard to talk across the generations. It can be especially hard to face that there isn’t anyone to talk to.

Thinking about some recent family meetings, here are really great conversation stoppers:

“There’s no need to talk about it---I’ve got it handled.”

“That’s between your mother (or father) and me.”

“When you write the checks you can make the decisions.”

“My house, my rules.”

Crying. Yelling. Stony silence.

Turning the TV on and/or turning it louder.

It can be really helpful to have a trained facilitator to keep the conversation going---for example, a geriatric care manager.

Peggy Flynn MA
The Caregiving Zone

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