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Talking Helps Families With End-of-Life Decisions

'Talk to your family about your wishes'

Humphrey said that experience prompted the family to discuss end-of-life plans with his mother, Muriel. "It helped us understand how she wanted to be treated" when she was dying in 1998.

Sean Kershaw, who heads the St. Paul-based Citizens League, a nonpartisan group that focuses on public policy, said medical directives have been in use for more than 25 years, "and the laws about patient rights are, for the most part, in place. What's missing is the social element."

To encourage public awareness, Twin Cities Public Television is planning to air at least eight documentaries or special programs during the next two years, in addition to creating an online tool kit for families. To see it, go to and search for "Honoring Choices MN."

Wilson said Honoring Choices MN is more about the discussion than the decision. "The most important thing is not what's written down. The most important thing is to talk to your family and loved ones about what your wishes are. It's a gift from you to them."

David Hawley is a writer living in Edina, Minn.

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