As you age, the role you play in your parent’s life changes as they age too. When you were younger it was once their responsibility to take care of you and help you plan for your future, but when you get older, the roles seem to reverse. An important aspect of helping your parents later in life is talking to them about their end of life planning which can include estate planning and what type of funeral they would like to have. Gearing up for “the talk” may make you feel nervous, but there is no need to be, as there are multiple ways to approach the situation. Here are some ideas of how to get started in having this important discussion.
When to Have the Conversation
When is a good time to start the conversation? As soon as you can, experts advise. It is essential to have the talk with your parents while they are in good health and mentally alert, instead of having a life-altering event force you to decide for them. As you start to decide when to begin having this talk with your parents, you may want to try to carve out a time that the family is together and in good spirits. It’s a good idea to get the conversation started then, to get an idea of what your parents have done for their estate planning so far and what their thoughts are around funeral planning. As it is an expansive discussion, it won’t all happen in one talk, consider the first meeting a ‘door-opener’ into the topic, if you will.
Get the Family on Board
It is crucial that all family members are aware and a part of the discussion. Getting the other siblings involved will help things run smoother. Before beginning to talk with your parents it is important to get together, whether in person or by using something like FaceTime if distance is an issue. By getting everyone involved, it will prevent feelings of jealousy, and also eliminate the possibility of addressing the same issue in different ways.
Start with the Basics
Talking about money and end of life planning can be tricky, so it’s important to ease into such conversations. Think of it as a group planning session to make it less daunting for both parties involved. Share what your personal end of life goals are and encourage your parents to share theirs. By having the planning be a collaborative effort, it makes it easier to go from here towards the more serious topics.
Discuss the Tough Stuff
After easing into the discussion by starting with the lighter topics, it’s time to start getting into the more difficult issues. It is better to tackle this now, then to have a bigger headache in the future. When sitting down with your parents, some important subjects to discuss include the depressing, such as funeral plans and illness. Troublesome to talk about, but necessary. And as you talk with them, consider it an ongoing conversation, it’s not something that can be discussed in its entirety in a single day. Take notes and retain them as your parent’s plans develop and change.
While examining the subject matter of death and dying with your parents and siblings, it’s a good idea to be empathetic. Obviously, these are touchy matters that may make everyone anxious. How would you feel if you were the focus of these decisions? Place yourself in your parent’s shoes, so that you may show compassion. Also, remember that these are their plans, and, although you are discussing it with them, it may not be decisions you like or agree with, but these are life choices that your parents are making, and take them with an open mind.
Not all family members are going to be experts on this matter. If you need to, reach out to experts for their wisdom. Whether it be a doctor, lawyer, advisor, or trusted friend, there are people out there that can help in the field of aging parents. Of course, be sure to let your parents know that you are seeking outside help and discussing it with others.
As you and your parents are developing end of life plans, if you need any support when researching pre-planning of funerals, our knowledgeable staff is standing by to assist you. You can contact our West Sayville location at (631) 589-2345 and our Bayport location can be reached at (631) 472-0122. Our website also provides wonderful resources, as you already may be aware. And remember, these are just some ideas to get you started as you plan this necessary discussion, you know your parents better than anyone, and thus know what will work best. After arming yourself with information, talk to them from your heart, from a place of compassion, and you really can do no wrong.