FEAR. The primary reason why we do not want to engage in “difficult” conversations with the dying

Written by Lisa Caraway Oliver, EdD | Posted 03.26.2020

Yesterday, I wrote about Karl-Anthony Towns whose mother has been hospitalized for the past week and is dealing with health complications from what he believes to be COVID-19. You can find that posting here.

I highlighted a particular part of the interview:

…She was telling me things I didn’t want to hear so — I dismissed some things she was saying because it wasn’t something I want to hear. It came to a point where it’s difficult. It’s been very difficult for me and my family, to say the least. She’s the head of our household. She’s the boss.” 


I wrote about how there was a “missed opportunity” to hear what his mother was trying to tell him because has Towns put it, “it wasn’t something I wanted to hear”.

This piece (nor the previous piece) is not about Karl-Anthony Towns. This piece is about how many of us find ourselves in the same situation and we fail our loved ones.

Let me explain some of the reason WHY a loved one (like this young man) does not what to listen to a loved one say things that are “difficult to hear”:


Towns states: “She’s the head of our household. She’s the boss.” He is afraid of what will happen to the stability of his household if Mom dies. Since Mom is the “Boss”, if Mom dies, who is going to tell him what to do? It is often these “concerns of self”, “What will happen to ME if my Mother/Father/Spouse/Child dies?”, that causes us to miss out on a final, meaningful conversation or, despite the Advanced Directives stating the contrary, choosing all types of therapies and treatments to keep their loved one alive.

Here is what we need to realize:

Here is what we need to realize: IT IS NOT ABOUT US. There is no doubt we truly love that person who is very sick but to really show that love: put our needs and fears to the side and give them what is being asked of us – whether it is a conversation or to adhere to the desires stated on the advanced directives. Besides, they trusted us with that moment or decision – let’s honor that trust.

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