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How to Talk to Your Adult Children About Your End of Life Plans

Published: December 30, 2021

Despite so many uncertainties in life, dying is not one of them. The sobering truth of the matter is that one day we will no longer be around.

But while we really have no power over this outcome, we do have the ability to make some decisions about our life’s end that influence such things as how we will be remembered and our life celebrated.

Making our end of life wishes known, though initially awkward and uncomfortable on the front end, can provide immeasurable support for our children at the time of our passing. It can also provide us peace of mind knowing they will be able to focus on the loss of us, rather than deciphering what we would have wanted.

Having the End of Life Conversation With Your Children

It may be helpful to remind yourself that sharing your end of life plan with your children is a positive thing, an opportunity rather than a burden, and also an act of love.

There are many ways to go about talking with your children about your end of life plans and it’s important to find a way that feels right for you and in a situation where you think your children will be most receptive.

Talking with them doesn’t need to be a big to-do. You can broach the subject as simply as: “Did you know that the other day your father and I stopped by the funeral home and discussed what we want our funerals to look like?”  Or slightly more formal such as: “When you and your brother are here for Easter, if we have time, I’d like to go over some important matters with you. I’ve got my funeral preferences in order and just wanted to run them by you and your brother so you don’t ever have to wonder.”

Here are some important things to keep in mind when talking to your children:

Offer Reassurance

You’ll want to let them know that you don't plan on dying any time soon. You are just wanting to make things easier for them when the time actually does come, and that’s why you are keeping them in the loop—so they can know what to expect and be as prepared as anyone can be in such a situation.

Keep an Open Mind

Maybe you’ve decided that you don’t want a viewing at your funeral, but come to learn your children feel differently. Or maybe your children are unhappy with your decision to be cremated and not buried, rather than being laid to rest in the cemetery where other close family members are. This doesn’t mean that you have to change your mind, but it’s important to listen to your children’s feelings and take them to heart. After all, it's them who will be most impacted by your death—that’s why they say funerals are for the living, not the dead.

Consider Involving Them

You could ask for their assistance with some of the most meaningful aspects of your end of life wishes. For example, maybe they could help write or proofread your obituary, select photographs to have on display at the visitation, or choose poems, scripture, or music for the memorial service.

Enlist the Help of a Funeral Director

Talking with a funeral director about your end of life plans can be really helpful. You may even wish to have your children join in on the conversation. Funeral directors have lots of insight from their experience working with families of all backgrounds. They can help you and your children come up with an end of life plan the whole family can feel comfortable with.

Don’t Worry If Your Kids Aren’t Receptive to Talking

Everyone has varying comfort levels when it comes to talking about end of life plans, and some find it much more difficult than others. If you find your child just isn’t open to having a conversation, you can simply hand them a copy of your funeral plan and tell them that while you don’t expect them to look at it right now, it’s there when and if they choose to.

We Want to Help

Having your end of life wishes in order is important, but please don’t stop there. Consider taking the next step, which is to let your children know what your wishes are. If there’s any way we can help with that, we’d really be glad to! Please reach out to us, Raynor & D’Andrea Funeral Home, at 1-800-737-001.

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