One of the things that wasn’t taught very well in medical school was talking about death. Once you start being a doctor you get confronted by this conversation pretty quickly and very frequently. Some get the hang of it and others don’t. Some avoid it.
But let’s deal with reality. Most doctoring is about prolonging rather than saving lives and everybody is one day going to die (something that doesn’t seem to be taught anywhere). So talking about death is a conversation that has to be had.
Unfortunately there is a common belief that talking about death is talking about stopping or not having treatment. This is certainly not the case. This discussion is about how and where a person wants to die. More often than not the ‘when’ is not controllable.
Right now there is a great deal of formal work being done around Advanced Care Directives. But there is a also a broader community movement starting to have the conversation. Examples in the online community include http://www.deathoverdinner.org and http://engagewithgrace.com