Charrette 1: Map of End-Of-Life Conversations

This map is from the point of view of the individual that will eventually die, though family members may be the ones to initiate the first conversation. It is a hard balance to strike between the “right” way to have these conversations and the “real” way these conversations happen, because nearly all factors that impact these conversations are circumstantial.

In creating this map I had to be very mindful that this timeline may only be applicable to the American middle class way of life (especially with regards to the medical and legal timeline represented, but also in the way that we are expected to relate to our family, spirituality, and the way we may prioritize or personal wishes over what may be “traditional”.

Categories

Social: Conversations we have with our family and friends about what we want them to know, what we need from them, and gaining closure.

Personal: Considerations we contemplate personally that inform the conversations we have with others

Logistical: Determining practical aspects of communication including when, where, and with whom conversations will happen.

Legal and Medical: Though separate, these categories are put together because they impact each other and may be handled or facilitated by professionals that work together to solve issues such as a lawyers, social workers, and doctors.

Spiritual: Conversations had and actions taken with a member of the clergy

Funerary: Preparations made for a funeral, shiva, or memorial service. This category may be subject to the most change from case to case based on tradition, willingness to address mortality, and timeliness of death.

Time Periods

Preparation: Possibly the longest period of time, preparation begins when you become aware of your own mortality and become an active participant in preparing for your eventual departure. 

Anticipation: Anticipation begins when death is a tangible, approaching event, though this may come at a different time for every person. This may be when someone becomes immobile and unable to care for themselves, when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness, when they are told there is no more viable treatment and should enter hospice. 

Conclusion: Conclusion is (hopefully) the shortest period of time. It begins when the dying process begins, and ends when death is complete.