Go Wish Game Facilitates Talk About End-of-Life Priorities
As a funeral director, how often do you hear families say, “If only I had known…” or “I wish I had thought to ask…?” So often the death of a loved one catches us off-guard, even if it was expected. We feel like we’ve left things unresolved, questions unasked, and personal thoughts and wishes unknown. There’s also doubt as to the way we handled things; is this really what he or she would have wanted?
The Coda Alliance wants to change that. Named for the musical coda, a note that signals the end of a piece of music, the Coda Alliance “partners with families, health and religious professionals, communities, hospitals, universities, hospices, elder care facilities, and global partner organizations to make end-of-life conversations a natural part of life.” A non-profit launched in 1999 as The Community Coalition for End of Life Care, Coda Alliance today provides a number of resources to help facilitate conversations about goals and healthcare.
Go Wish playing cards
One of the most popular resources offered by Coda is the Go Wish card game. Available in 10 languages, each deck consists of 36 cards that are just slightly larger than a business card. Printed in a large eyesight-friendly font on 35 of the cards are phrases like the following:
- “To take care of unfinished business with family and friends”
- “To be free from pain”
- “Not dying alone”
- “To say goodbye to important people in my life”
- “To prevent arguments by making sure my family knows what I want”
- “Not being a burden on my family”
- “To have a nurse I feel comfortable with”
The 36th card is a wild card, which can be anything the player wants to add. The goal of the game is for the player to prioritize each of these wishes into three categories: 10 cards which are Very Important, 20 that are Somewhat Important, and 20 that are Not Important.
When selections have been made, the Coda Alliance urges players to share the top 10 cards with their loved ones, or at least with the person who will become their primary health care agent, so that they can start the often-difficult conversations about what they want their end of life to look like. These ten cards may prompt the preparation of legal documents like advance directives or even encourage folks to go ahead and prearrange their final services.
Ready player two
Playing the Go Wish cards don’t have to be a solitary exercise, though. The Coda Alliance suggests a two-player version of the game, where the individual preparing for end of life makes their selections while a loved one makes selections of what they think the other will prioritize. When both have selected their top 10, they compare and discuss similarities, differences, and implications.
A conversation — not a list — is the true goal of the Go Wish game. The Coda Alliance has started these conversations using the cards with church groups, assisted living facilities, senior centers, and health education classes, and has worked with social workers, healthcare professionals, and families to show them how to use the cards. Although the website doesn’t specifically list death care professionals as a group with whom they’ve worked with, it seems that having a deck of Go Wish cards on hand for individuals who are working through the preneed process would be a great option.
Go Wish decks are sold two for $26, four for $44, or at bulk rates for larger orders. There’s also a free online version of the game that allows you to save and print your final card placements.