Preparing for death is never a comfortable conversation for anyone, including both the individual whose death you are discussing and the individual who wants to learn about their wishes. That conversation, however, is vital. When you talk with a loved one about their wishes, you get a better idea of how that individual wants to be remembered and what is important to them. Are you struggling to start the conversation? Consider some of these important details.
Before you sit down to have The Talk, consider your loved one's communication style. Think about other important conversations you've had in the past and how they've gone. Some people are eager communicators: they want to share all the details they've considered. Others struggle to communicate, especially when it comes to hard concepts. You should take into consideration your loved one's communication style before beginning the conversation.
Start the conversation correctly. Don't jump straight into funeral planning. Instead, reflect on the person's life story: their values, their interests, and their experiences. Try asking some of these questions:
- What is your proudest achievement?
- What was the one piece of advice you received from a parent or grandparent that you never forgot?
- Tell me about the most memorable summer you had growing up.
- Talk to me about your favorite teacher: what did you learn from him or her?
- If you could spend a day doing anything you like, what would it be?
The Importance of Listening
When you have a conversation about funerals or memorials with your loved ones, try to do more listening than talking. This might be one of the most important conversations you will ever have with your loved one. Listen carefully to their insights. By listening carefully, you may pick up more important details than anticipated. You may go in with a list of questions: whether your loved one has a prepaid funeral plan, if they want something specific for the memorial, where they want to be buried--or even if they want to be buried at all. Instead of plowing through those questions or treating them as items on a list, however, take the time to listen carefully. Take note of any insights you gain during that conversation.
During the conversation, let your loved one know how much you appreciate them and their life. They may have key insights or information that has helped you in the past, or they might share new insights that will help you in the future. Whatever the case, simply listening to what they have to say is a great way to show your support and love.
An Ongoing Dialogue:
Your Key to Conversational Success
No conversation this important should be a one-and-done discussion. Instead, allow this conversation to open the door for future conversations, as well. Continue chatting with your loved one about their plans. Throughout these conversation, you will gain a number of key insights. You may learn more about who the person is and was. You might discover what is most important to them, both in their lifetime and when it comes to remembering them after their lifetime is over.
Keep in mind that you need not schedule an appointment for these conversations. Instead, take advantage of opportunities when you are with your loved one. Listen to what they really have to say or what they really need to talk about. Sometimes, talking about funeral and memorial arrangements will bring your loved one peace. Other times, they may want to share things with you that they want to last beyond their death, from the people who meant the most to them in the past to the advice that they want to stand the test of time.
Through these conversations about funeral arrangements, you will develop a deeper understanding of your loved one and a deeper appreciation for their life. In fact, you may be incredibly grateful that you took this opportunity, even though the conversation may be difficult. By utilizing some of these strategies, you can make the conversation easier on both of you. Need more help? Contact us today to learn more about how we can help provide support during this time.