It’s only three months into the year, and the world has mourned the deaths of many popular figures. Alan Rickman, Maurice White, René Angélil, and Nancy Reagan are just a few of the beloved celebrities who have passed away in 2016. This should remind everyone that life is short, and you never know when you will have to deal with a death of a loved one. No one wants to think about it, but the best time to discuss funeral plans with your family is when you’re healthy. Here are some tips to open the dialogue with your parents, spouse, or sibling about your own wishes in the event of your death.
Before you can talk about what you want, you need to think about your desires. Do you have funeral arrangements? Do you want to be cremated? What kind of a service would you like? You cannot give your family a plan without having one. Make some notes about what should go into your obituary. Sometimes, children have no idea what you did before you were their parent or what you believe is important to be noted in the announcement.
Starting a Difficult Conversation
Talking about death isn’t easy. Make time in a neutral setting. Start talking about your health. Assure your loved ones that you aren’t dying, but you do have an important topic to talk about. Explain why you want to tell them about your funeral plans. Remind them of a time in your family when plans weren’t in order and how crazy that was. Tell them you just want to make it easier for them in the event of your death, which you hope doesn’t happen for a long time.
You should be prepared for different reactions. People may respond in various ways, which is perfectly understandable. Bringing up this topic can really catch your children or spouse off guard, so they might react with denial, “I just can’t think about this right now.” In that case, tell them you understand, but you would like to be able to share the information with them. You may need to give them a day or two to process the conversation. You may want to change the subject and bring it up in a couple of days.
Another reaction is alarm or disbelief that you’re healthy. You may get asked if you’re not telling them something. Remember that you’ve been thinking about this subject for a while, and they are just hearing about it. Death is not something that people generally talk about. Many people think that if they don’t talk about something, it just won’t happen. Don’t push, just segue into another topic.
If You Just Can’t Bring It Up
For whatever reason, you just can’t talk to those you love. Maybe your kids are too young, or they aren’t in a stage of life where they can deal with your future death. It’s okay. Families have different communication styles. The way to get around this is to write things down. You don’t need to give every detail. Put your instructions with your other important papers. Be assured that this will definitely help your loved ones when the time comes.
One recommendation, even if you have talked to your family: It would still be a good idea to put your wishes in writing. People forget. Loved ones disagree about what is truly your voice. If you only talked to one person, but there are multiple people making decisions, the one you told might be in a place where he or she has to defend your wishes. Having a written plan can help those you leave behind to really know what you want. Once you’ve explained your own plan, you can then ask your loved ones to think about their own wishes, just in case.