Plan for the Future
In life, we’re often tasked with having difficult discussions with family members. But in nearly every case, those discussions involve things that are for their own good. When you’re a caregiver taking care of an aging parent, these talks take on even more weight because discussing their mortality might be involved.
A talk with your aging parents about a planned funeral is something that’s more important than either of you might think. A few moments of uncomfortableness while you learn what their wishes are for their funeral and how they would like to be remembered will save you a lot of problems once that fateful day arrives.
No one wants to be forced to make decisions under duress after a loved one has died. You want to take that time to grieve with your family and share pleasant memories about your parents.
From the ceremony to the type of burial to the place they’d like to be buried, there are several things your parent can share with you that would, in the end, make both of you much happier.
Remember that most parents had difficult discussions with you all your life, whether it was about relationships or worldly dangers. They did that out of love, which is why you’re also having this conversation.
5 Things to Remember When Talking to an Aging Parent About Planned Funerals
Initially, your parent will likely be reluctant to talk about what happens when they’re gone, but if you approach them in a thoughtful manner, they’ll see that this is one more way they can make the lives of their children better.
- Sooner is Better
Getting this conversation out of the way as soon as possible is a great way to get it behind you as fast as possible, too.
Breaking the ice and getting them to start talking is obviously the most difficult, and each family would probably need to approach their parent in a different manner.
Be candid, but loving. Try starting off the conversation with a statement, like, “Mom/Dad, I want to talk to you about something that might be uncomfortable, but needs to be discussed to save both of us future problems.” This should trigger then “parent” in them, wanting to help you. Explain to them that you need their help planning their funeral because you know you would have trouble dealing with it afterward and you might not make the decisions they’d want.
- Have a Professional Facilitate the Questions
By going with your parent(s) to a funeral home, like The Gardens of Boca Raton Cemetery and Funeral Services, and preplanning their funeral there, you won’t have to ask all of the questions. Plus, the funeral home people will ask important questions that you might not even think to ask.
You can even use an online funeral planning guide to help guide you through the discussion.
Also, a professional, like a funeral director or an estate lawyer, will not be emotionally attached, and they can ask the hard questions you might be reluctant to ask, like if they’d like to be buried or cremated, or both.
- Be Patient
Just because you’re ready to plan their funeral doesn’t mean they are. It’s very possible you’ll have to come back to the discussion at a later time, after they’ve had time to think about what they’d like.
If you sense their reluctance to talk about it when you first broach the subject, then print out some information with them, and set a time for the next week to talk about it again. (Making an appointment with a funeral home to talk about their plans also gives them time to consider everything.)
- Have a Conversation – Not an Interview
You can ask questions by not asking them, strangely enough. In other words, you can share your own wishes about planning your funeral, and they very well might share their opinions on their wishes.
For instance, if you said you would like to be cremated and have your ashes spread in a lake you like to fish in, then your parents might share what they thought about cremation. And if they were open to it, you could ask where they’d like their ashes spread.
You could also take this time to talk about doing a Living Will, which would help people make decisions about your life when you are incapacitated. Then discuss why it’s so important that you fill one out – and maybe they’ll consider writing one out as well.
Make sure you ask open-ended questions that get them to actually share their thoughts, rather than just “yes” or “no” questions. Open-ended questions with likely get you answers to multiple things, whereas the yes/no question will only get you an answer to one question.
- Plan Your Funeral and Ask For Their Help
This might be the best advice you could use, since you’re essentially taking care of two generations in your family. While you plan yours, you can ask them questions about how they’d like theirs done, plus your children will now never have to have this discussion with you. What a loving gift you can give to both the generation in your family before and after you.
By planning your funeral, and asking them for help in doing so, you can ask for their opinions on a variety of items that need to be answered.
This exercise is also useful when you think about writing out a will, which could help them understand just how important it is for them to make sure they write a will – or update one that they might have written a decade ago.
Talking to your aging parent about planned funerals is a kindness – for both your parent and yourself. It shows that you care about what they think and what their wishes are for their future. It will also give you some insight on your own future, and you’ll help those around you answer questions that they might someday have to ask you. Approaching these conversations with love is the most important aspect, and in the end, you and your family will have an easier time celebrating the life of your lost loved ones. For more information on how to talk to a parent about planned funerals, talk to the people at The Gardens of Boca Raton – Cemetery and Funeral Services.