Discussing end-of-life plans with elderly relatives can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortably painful. Helping them with funeral preplanning now can relieve stress and anxiety about the future. Here are four tips for broaching the subject as delicately as possible.
How to Start the Conversation
1. Do Your Research
Use resources to help you prepare for conversations about advanced planning. Ask a funeral director for guides, checklists, and pamphlets that answer questions about prearrangements. Gather as much information as possible before approaching a loved one, and rehearse what you’ll say. Research will help you proceed with clarity, rather than chaos.
2. Proceed With Respect
Listen carefully to what your loved one has to say. Listen more than you speak. Write down their wishes and read them back to make sure you are on the same page. If they don’t want to talk or get too emotional, defer the conversation. Persisting despite their objections may cause upset and hinder progress.
3. Gently Spark Remembrances
Weave the discussion of preplanning funeral arrangements into a conversation about reminisces of the past or about a lost loved one. Ask how they would like to be remembered. Be gentle, and use laughter—if appropriate—to soften your remarks. You can gracefully transition into the topic of funeral preplanning when looking over a family photo album. Choose a moment or season when they feel healthy and at peace. Remind them of their legacy, not of any recent illness.
4. Ask the Right Questions
There many decisions to make when planning a funeral. Instead of bombarding your loved one with a lot of questions at once, keep a list and spread them out over several talks. Start slowly. Ask about the memories, trips, and songs they cherish. Discuss their proudest achievements or a lesson learned and never forgotten.
Some questions may spark meaningful insights or uncover lost memories. Most of all, these questions will reaffirm how much they mean to you and remind them of the impact they’ve had on your life.
The team at Brown Funeral Home & Cremations in Martinsburg, WV, will help you address funeral preplanning questions and concerns. They offer funeral planning services, out-of-town arrangements, prearrangements, caskets, cemetery vaults, burials and cremations for you and your loved ones. To learn more about advanced planning, visit them online, or call (304) 263-8896 to speak with Steve Hedges, their Certified Preplanning Consultant.