As our parents advance in age, the necessity of candid conversations about end-of-life preparations becomes increasingly important. While discussing funeral arrangements may appear somewhat awkward or uncomfortable, below is some practical guidance on encouraging aging parents to think in advance about preplanning their funeral arrangements.
Starting conversations about preplanning funeral arrangements with our aging parents can be challenging. However, it is important to ensure that their wishes are documented and honored and to alleviate the burden on their adult children of having to plan while grieving.
Preplanning also spares the surviving spouse from having to make weighty decisions during a period of profound grief. It is not just a means of reducing stress for yourself and your children but also for your other parent.
There is no reason to dwell on the worst-case scenario, as this may make your parents uncomfortable. You can frame your conversation around what holds the greatest significance for them. Many individuals have reservations about their own mortality. Reassure them that these conversations are not about the end itself but rather about making thoughtful decisions and providing peace of mind for their loved ones.
Select a time and place for the conversation where you are least likely to be interrupted or distracted.
Rather than taking control of the decision-making process, approach preplanning as a collaborative effort. Assure your parents that you are there to offer assistance and guidance while respecting their autonomy and preferences. Share information about various options, such as burial, cremation, or environmentally friendly funerals, and convey the message that their choices will be honored.
Once your parents are open to the idea of preplanning, assist them with the practical steps to make it happen. You can prepare by researching options online or giving one of our preplanning specialists a call. We would be happy to provide you with all the information and materials you will need to help your parents along.
It is unlikely that you will cover all aspects in a single conversation. Adopt a "short and frequent" approach, allowing your parents to set the pace as much as possible. Once the ice is broken, revisiting the topic becomes more manageable.
At times, recounting personal stories or experiences can provide reassurance and motivation. Share your own experiences or anecdotes from friends who have engaged in the preplanning process with their parents. Discuss how it brought them peace of mind and eased the grieving process for their families.
Prepaid funeral arrangements can ease your parents' concerns about you and other family members while ensuring their wishes are followed. Starting a conversation on funeral preplanning may not be the easiest thing, but many families emerge from it feeling closer.
If you need help, we have preplanning advisors happy to answer your questions and guide you along this important path.