How to Talk About Death with Your Family
Death isn’t always an easy topic to talk about, but having conversations with your family and loved ones surrounding the end of your life early is essential to make your wishes known. Here are some tips and suggestions to help make these conversations a little easier for both you and your family.
Prepare What You Want to Talk About
Planning what you want to say can help the conversation move more slowly and will make sure you have discussed everything relevant at that time. It may be beneficial to write a list or download a digital funeral planner that you can share with your loved ones. This way you can ensure you’ve talked about the topics that are most important to you, such as what you’d like your funeral to look like, where you’d like to be taken care of and more.
Start the Conversation the Right Way
In reality, there really isn’t a right way to start the conversation about death. And there is very rarely a right time to bring it up either. It can be awkward and uncomfortable, but starting the conversation when your family is calm and relaxed is the best time. Discussing topics of this nature whilst tensions are high in your family can result in these feelings being heightened.
It can be useful to have some conversation starters in mind that are relevant to what you want to talk about. For example:
- “I’ve had some ideas about what I’d like my funeral to be like, can we have a conversation about this?”
- “I’ve been reading up on some advance care planning and I think it would be a good idea to start putting this in writing. Are you happy discussing this with me?”
- “I think it would be a good time to start thinking about my will. Would you be happy helping me with this?”
- “I think I know what I would like to happen to my body after I’m gone. Are you happy to have this conversation with me so you understand my wishes?”
The conversation surrounding death can be upsetting or uncomfortable for you or your loved ones, and your loved ones may be worried about upsetting you. Setting boundaries during the conversation helps ensure that everyone involved remains comfortable and positive.
Discuss Any End-of-Life Plans & Policies
If you have been proactive in planning for your death, you may be currently paying into a pre-paid funeral plan or have other kinds of end-of-life policies and plans lined up. With funeral costs rising every year, informing your loved ones about policies and plans that may help them out financially following your death can help make the process of handling practicalities much easier.
Pre-Paid Funeral Plans
A pre-paid funeral plan allows you to plan and pay for your funeral in advance to protect your family from unexpected funeral costs. You pay in every month that you are alive, and when you die, the pre-paid funeral plan pays out to your family to cover the burial or cremation fees. Other elements of the funeral may also be included depending on the type of plan you have chosen.
Just like pre-paid funeral plans, life insurance policies can be used to cover funeral costs with a lump sum that is paid out when the policyholder passes away. However, it’s usually up to the beneficiary to decide what they do with the life insurance pay out; they are not obligated to spend it on the funeral. Discussing how you want this lump sum to be spent is beneficial for your family when discussing your death.
When it comes to end-of-life planning, you must share the details of your will with your loved ones. A will is a legal document that defines how a person’s money, property and other assets are distributed in the event of their death and names the executors to manage the estate until its final distribution.
End of Life Plans
It may be a good idea to discuss your end-of-life care should you become ill. For example, where will you be treated? Or who will you appoint as your lasting power of attorney? You may also want to discuss what you want to happen to your body. There are several options available for all preferences and budgets, for example:
- Cremation – one of the most common options for a funeral. A service is usually held beforehand, and the ashes are handed over to the family.
- Direct cremation – a cremation without the funeral service. Some people feel that there are unnecessary parts to cremation and would rather a memorial take place following the cremation.
- Ground burial – the most common and traditional funeral option. Bodies are placed in a casket or coffin and buried 6 feet underground in a local cemetery with a headstone stating the identity and often and loving message.
Although it can be uncomfortable and often upsetting discussing death with your loved ones, by following our tips you can create a positive setting to involve those around you in your plans. Discussing death early can mean your loved ones are aware of your wishes and can also reduce the burden on you to handle all the decisions.