“I realized only after my mother’s death how much easier it would have all been if I heard her voice in my ear as these decisions had to be made.”

Ellen Goodman

Tuesday – National Healthcare Decisions Week: Ellen Goodman, Founder, Conversation Project

Ellen Goodman is a true media pioneer. She started her career as a researcher for Newsweek magazine and went on to become one of the first women to write for the publication’s op-ed pages. In 1980, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary.

No reporter skills, however, could uncover her mother’s voice in order to talk deeply and specifically about her desires and wishes when she was facing her end her life. Like the majority of us, Ellen struggled and questioned the decisions she was making on her mother’s behalf. “Have I made the right decisions for my mother?” she asked herself. Ellen never wanted her family or friends to feel that same burden. Ellen realized after her mother’s death how much easier it would have been if she could have heard her mother’s voice guiding her throughout all the difficult discussions. Ellen knew she had missed the opportunity to have a conversation.

“The Conversation Project” was created in 2010 when Ellen and a group of colleagues, concerned members of the media, clergymen, and medical professionals came together to share stories of “good deaths” and “bad deaths.” In 2011, The Conversation Project began a partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) in order to create momentum and awareness for their “Conversation” initiative.

Today, “The Conversation Project” includes a team of seasoned law and media professionals along with a group of journalists who are working pro bono alongside IHI staff members to bring a wealth of expertise to the project.