Having open and honest conversations about death can be challenging, but until we find a way to avoid death altogether, it's an essential part of planning ahead.
Things like where and what you want your funeral to look like, medical decisions and charity donations are all important things to consider above and beyond the finances. From shaping your legacy to helping provide peace of mind, these conversations are sometimes difficult but often rewarding- and we’re here to help kickstart them.
Read on for our top tips on how to talk about death, why it's important and when and who to target!
When it comes to end of life choices, you don’t get a do-over. Talking through what’s important to you ensures that your family are up to speed on what matters, as well as the ‘why’ to get fully behind it.
There's nothing worse than a family having to second guess every decision after a loved one dies, so having these conversations in advance avoids the need for doubt, guilt and stress on those left behind.
For some, it can help avoid family disputes when the time comes. For others, it can bring comfort and peace at a difficult time of loss. Either way, having these conversations increases the likelihood your wishes will be fulfilled- from asset distribution, to property shares and end of life details.
It can be difficult to think of those we love as dying. Even more so, it can be difficult to think about practicalities when they’re no longer around.
Whilst conversations about death can be difficult, it’s important to note there's immense benefits of this planning ahead. From bringing you closer together, granting peace of mind and ensuring your’e wishes are fulfilled- you can help relieve your family member's stress with a little bit of forward thinking.
Typically, these conversations would happen with immediate family and friends. Spouses, children and siblings who stand to make the tough decisions are important to involve and consider in these discussions, given they’ll likely overlap as executors, funeral planners and decision makers in your end of life matters.
Other people to consider may be estate lawyers and financial advisors, as well as trustees or chosen funeral directors.
Even if you feel blasé about your own death, it’s likely your immediate family won’t. Discussing death can be upsetting and stressful, and it’s important to choose your words and your moment wisely.
Starting with expressing your own thoughts and concerns can open the dialogue in a gentle way, whilst also creating space to listen to others' concerns. Whilst the focus is on your own end of life planning, it’s important to be compassionate and patient about your own family members' emotions.
For some, these conversations can spark fights, and for others can trigger tears. Maintaining a compassionate approach is essential for all reactions, and can help maintain that mutually supportive environment- even if you are the one talking about dying.
Whether you use personal anecdotes, stories or end of life inspiration from others in the family- maintaining a personal touch can be a softer way to launch the conversation, rather than straight in with the paperwork details and admin. It’s also likely these conversations will draw out and deepen over time; giving your family member some time to adjust and think over any details discussed.
Prepare for questions, prepare for upset and, for some, be ready for some defensiveness on even going there. There's no right or wrong way to go about it, but if you stick with compassion and remain consistent, then you’re likely to be heading in the right direction.
Whilst these conversations are important, there's a time and a place for talking about death. Picking your moment can set the tone and direction of your conversation - helping your family members to feel comfortable with an undoubtedly uncomfortable topic.
When it comes to end of life, certain life events or milestones can serve as a natural trigger and excuse to raise the subject- with things like marriage, children, retirement or health diagnoses often a good time to raise your end of life wishes and estate preferences.
Additionally, tasks like writing or updating your Will, reviewing power of attorney or executors, can also serve as key opportunities to engage in these conversations. But no matter the trigger, it’s wise to choose somewhere private and comfortable to have these discussions.
Safewill platforms make it easier than ever to get your end of life affairs in order. From constant legal support, a flexible time frame and affordable costs- it’s a whole heap of stress taken off what can be a stressful time.
Start your admin and end of life conversations today, for peace of mind tomorrow and years (and hopefully years and years!) after that.