The difficulty in discussing death with your family and friends means that often, thoughts and final wishes are left unsaid and can’t be honoured properly when you pass away. But however awkward this conversation might be, it’s an essential talk to have to make your end of life wishes known and to be comfortable talking about the practical actions required for end-of-life care. These suggestions can help make those conversations easier to have with those around you.
Start the conversation
The first step in talking about death is actually overcoming the challenge of starting the conversation itself. It can be awkward to start talking about a difficult subject like death, but the reality is there’s no right or wrong way to do so, nor is there a perfect time. It’s up to you and those who are close to you to and when feels like the right situation, but it’s important to choose a time when everyone is calm and relaxed.
You don’t want to be discussing sensitive topics when there’s a stressful or tense atmosphere. Think about how you’ll broach the subject – maybe you’ve had a recent experience that has prompted the conversation that you can use as an entry point to the talk.
Inform your family of any policies
If you’ve taken a proactive approach to your death, such as setting up a funeral plan or paying into a life insurance policy, you need to let those around you about those plans while you can. You don’t want your partner or children to have to determine whether you had a funeral plan while they’re grieving your passing. So, informing them of these types of policies and plans while you’re alive will help make the process of handling the practicalities of your death much easier.
Prepare what you want to discuss
Considering what you want to say in advance can help the conversation move more smoothly and will help you ensure you have talked about the topics that are most important to you. It can help to make some notes beforehand or even to use a template, such as a digital funeral planner, that will help you tick off the main points you want to make.
You may want to talk about the practical elements of your end of life care, such as where you’ll want to be treated if you become ill, such as a hospice or at home, or who you will appoint as your lasting power of attorney. Or maybe you want to talk about the emotional side of things, such as what you’d like your funeral to look like and any concerns you have.
Listen to your family’s wishes
Your end-of-life care should be centred around what you’d like for yourself, but it’s also important to listen to what your family would want for you too. Remember that they want what’s best for you, so it can be a good opportunity to discuss different issues around your death and to weigh up what’s best. For example, you may differ on opinions of where you’d like to receive care in your final years if you should need it, or if there are any therapies you do or don’t want if you become ill.
It’s worth remembering that the discussion doesn’t always have to be about death and dying, but rather how you would like to live up until you die. In having these talks early on, everyone is on the same page about what will take place depending on different scenarios which can ease the burden of wondering whether you’re making the right choices.
Talking about our own mortality can feel like an uncomfortable thing to do, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to break the taboo of talking about death, as well as essential that important decisions are made when you’re able to tackle them with an objective perspective. Involving those around you in these conversations can help reduce the burden on you to handle all the decisions but it also means that your loved ones are aware of your end-of-life wishes so they can honour your life as you would want them to.