Kathy Kortes-Miller, MSW, PhD
Talking About Death Won't Kill You
The Essential Guide to End-of-Life Conversations
by Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller
The recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling in favour of allowing medically hastened death has woken us up to the need to talk about the end of our lives. More than 4 million Canadians die each year (1), and each death affects, on average, the immediate well-being of at least five other people.
74% of Canadians report having thought about their end of life (2). And more than 60% of Canadians think we do not talk about dying and death enough (3). Yet only 13% have an advance care plan
prepared, (4) which means too few of us are actively discussing end of life.
A practical and accessible book, Talking About Death Won't Kill You addresses the issues and concerns revealed in these statistics and provides a roadmap for Canadians who want to make the
best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. It takes perceptions of dying and death out of the dark and makes them an integral part of life that deserves and demands acknowledgement,respect, and even a bit of lightheartedness.
Far from morbid, Talking About Death Won't Kill You takes a refreshing community engagement approach to dying and death by focusing on regaining control over health-care decisions, personal
conversations, and informal caregiving, rather than focusing on formal healthcare resources. This handbook covers immediate concerns like funeral arrangements, long-term planning around a
terminal illness, sample conversations, suggestions for workplaces, how to talk to children about death, and more.
1 Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, 2013
2 Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, 2015
3 Groundswell, 2015
4 Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association, 2015
“It’s hard to imagine a better guide to end-of-life conversations than Kathy Kortes-Miller. The path she takes us on is sometimes thorny and still insufficiently travelled, but the journey is essential. In her quest to reclaim death as a social process rather than an isolated medical event, Dr. Kortes-Miller offers help that ranges from a theoretical understanding of grief to conversational prompts to spark difficult discussions. I especially welcomed her consideration of the role played by social media in death and mourning.”
- Katherine Ashenburg - author of The Mourner's Dance
"Talking About Death Won't Kill You is a frank, open-minded discussion about a topic many of us fear. Kortes-Miller pulls the shroud off dying and offers practical suggestions that will help patients, families and healthcare professionals deal with end-of-life choices, options and realities. This book is a good and necessary primer."
- Sandra Martin, author of the award-winning bestseller, A Good Death: Making the Most of Our Final Choices.
"Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller extensive experience in palliative care and her own personal connection with death and dying is clearly evident in her book and illuminates the shadows surrounding this topic. Learning how to communicate effectively with caregivers, families, healthcare providers and employers is crucial to making death less daunting and Dr. Kortes-Miller's unique perspective from both sides of the equation are thoughtfully expressed. From conversation starters to suggestions on what questions to ask, this book will help people and families navigate towards a good death and ultimately, a good life."
-Ian Bos, Palliative Care Advocate and Across Canada Walker