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Talking to Your Loved Ones about Final Wishes

Erin Hutchins Johnson

February 14, 2023 at 6:00:00 PM

Talking to Your Loved Ones about Final Wishes
It can be one of the most uncomfortable conversations we have but despite the certainty of death, many of us put off making plans to discuss final wishes with our loved one(s). Let’s face it, thinking about a loved one dying isn’t fun and can produce extreme discomfort. We plan for weddings, the birth of a child, education, careers, and retirement. Despite the conversations we have for these life events, rarely, if ever, do we have conversations or think about the final phase of our lives, until a crisis hits. Preparing in advance allows us to avoid some of the uncertainty and anxiety associated with our loved one(s) not knowing our preferences and allows you to create a plan that honors your beliefs and wishes.

Before you approach your loved one(s) about your final wishes, you should choose those you trust most as they will be the ones carrying out your wishes when the time comes. This might include a spouse, child, sibling, or close friend. Let them know you would like to discuss your wishes for when the time comes and ask if they would be willing to discuss with you. Scheduling the conversation gives your loved one(s) time to prepare mentally.

Prior to meeting, make a list of crucial details you want to discuss during your conversation. Having a written record of your wishes can help make pre-planning a funeral much easier. This might include whether you wish to be buried or cremated, the type of ceremony you wish to have and what details you would like included in your obituary. If you are sharing important items such as a will, medical information, social security, a safety deposit box and/or safe, or passwords, include where this information will be stored and if you’ve set aside any funds or have an insurance policy in place.

The thought of having the conversation may be uncomfortable but explaining to your loved one(s) that you do not wish to place the burden of figuring out what you would have wanted when you’re gone might help ease their mind. If they are not yet ready to discuss, consider providing them with a copy of the document to look over. They may want to approach you on their own terms when they are ready.

You don’t have to cover everything in your initial discussion, and nothing is set in stone. It’s unlikely plans will be finalized during your initial conversation. Even if you feel you’ve covered most of the issues you wanted to address, it’s still a good idea to check in periodically to ensure they are comfortable with the plans that are in place or if you need to communicate any changes.

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