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Steps For Starting the End-of-Life Conversation

No one likes to talk about death and dying, at least not their own. And yet, it’s a critical time in everyone’s life and we know we need to prepare for it. While many people would like to share their wishes, something always seems to keep us from openly communicating with our families.

As an important part of estate planning, healthcare decisions also need to be discussed. This helps preserve our legacy and provide peace of mind for our loved ones. We can rest easy knowing that if they need to act, they will respect and carry out our wishes.

If you’ve been dreading having this talk with your own parents, children, or other family members, there are a number of steps to consider.

Just Ask

Before launching into this tough conversation, it’s not a bad idea to pose the question “when?” Ask your loved one when they might have time to discuss your estate planning and healthcare decisions. By introducing the topic this way, no one is caught off guard—and it can help everyone reflect on what they really want to communicate before sitting down.

Aim for Clarity

Do whatever you can to help make these conversations clear. Write out a list of major points you want to make ahead of time. Be prepared that your family may have questions they want to ask about—inclusion of family members in the decision-making process, preferences for memorials, etc. Simplicity and clarity can help neutralize the feelings of anxiety that everyone may have and help everyone walk away from the conversation with the peace of mind they were hoping for.

Don’t Get Sidetracked

This is a tough one. Likely no one really wants to talk about it, or would rather talk about something else. But you’ve got to help get through it. So even though the conversation will no doubt be rife with opportunity to reflect, remember, and opine: try to stay on task. You want to make sure that everyone walks away from the conversation with a better understanding than before.

Keep the Conversation Going

While it may feel like a one-time conversation because it’s emotional, or hard to have if your loved one lives far away, remember that it’s not a one-shot deal. You are simply opening the lines of conversation, not setting anything in stone. Remembering this will help empower everyone to be open.

Need Assistance? Give Us a Call

Talking about your end-of-life decisions can be hard, but it is an essential part of estate planning. If you have any further questions about how to have these conversations or would like us to help facilitate this discussion, please feel free to contact us. We are here to help!