An Important Conversation: Talking About Final Wishes
Sadly, many families face must deal with the situation in which a loved one passes away before his or her dying wishes are made known.
Grieving family members left behind often find themselves lost and confused, faced with difficult decisions and uncertainty about what the departed would have wanted. This unfortunate outcome can be avoided by having advance conversations with your loved ones about their final wishes.
We seem to think we can avoid death by not discussing it. But in reality, by not talking about it, we’re setting ourselves up for a far more difficult experience when a loved one passes. That’s why it’s so important to overcome the fear of talking about final wishes with those you love. But how should you go about starting the conversation? Read on for some helpful tips that will make talking about death and dying much easier for both of you.
- Pick the right place and time. This important conversation deserves your full attention, so try to find a quiet, comfortable setting when you have plenty of time to talk and won’t feel rushed. Some people feel more at ease at home on the sofa, while others prefer taking a ride or sharing their thoughts about final arrangements over dinner. Give thought in advance to the environment your loved one would likely prefer. If you have siblings, it’s wise to invite them to participate in these talks to avoid hurt feelings and sensitive issues down the road.
- Don’t push. Your loved one may initially be resistant. He or she might get irritable or try to change the subject. If this occurs, proceed cautiously. Just let him or her know that it’s something you’d like to talk about when they’re ready to do so. And don’t forget that your family member may not wait for you to broach the subject, so prepare yourself to have the conversation on their schedule.
- Be a good listener. Remember, this is about your loved one’s final wishes, not yours. Maybe you would prefer a full funeral mass over a small memorial service, but right now, that’s not important. This is the time for your loved one share his or her wishes without judgment.
- Help your loved one deal with the many practical matters related to death and dying. Discuss advance directives, living wills, powers of attorney, Do Not Resuscitate orders, etc. Find out where these documents are located, or if they haven’t been prepared, contact an estate attorney. Regarding funeral plans, does your loved one want to be cremated or buried? Is there a burial plot? Do they have a particular funeral home or funeral director in mind? Final wishes involve many elements. Drawing up a list of questions ahead of time will help to ensure that you cover the most important topics. Be prepared for multiple conversations. There’s a lot of territory to cover so don’t expect to resolve everything in one discussion. It’s also important to keep in mind that choices can change. Revisit your family member’s final wishes from time to time.
- Show your full support. Perhaps the most important advice for this most significant conversation is to make sure that your loved one knows that whatever his or her wishes are, to the best of your ability you will see to it that they are carried out.
Talking about the realities of death is hard, especially when it comes to those we love. But the earlier you have the tough conversations about end-of-life planning, the sooner you’ll all feel the comfort of knowing that you’ve left nothing unsaid. If you need help with end of life conversations or final arrangements, please contact us anytime. Our compassionate funeral directors are always ready to assist you.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization serving three states, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. For more information, please call us at 215-549-4700 or visit our website.