DOES YOUR FAMILY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT?
You’ve probably heard us say that the best time to plan a funeral is before you need it. The same goes for talking about your funeral plan with your loved ones. It doesn’t do much good to have a plan in place if no one knows about it. Remember, a key reason for preplanning is to save your family from having to make difficult decisions at an emotional time. Ensuring that they know what you want is a vital part of that.
Having the Talk
The hardest part of talking about your funeral plan with your loved ones is getting started. It might be easy if there was a right or wrong way, but no luck there. The right way to start a conversation about the type of funeral you want is the one that works for your unique situation. After all, you know your loved ones best, so you are the best judge of the approach that makes both you and your family comfortable.
That said, there are things you can do to help the whole process go smoothly. In fact, you may be surprised at how receptive the people you’re talking to are. Once the awkward part is out of the way, you will probably find that they’ve wanted to have this conversation but didn’t know how to go about it.
7 Tips for Talking with Your Loved Ones About Your Funeral Plan
- Plan in advance.
You don’t need a script, but you should think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to start by going through the big items like burial versus cremation, or do you want to present a detailed funeral plan? How complex you want to get impacts how much time you need and perhaps where you hold the conversation.
Keep in mind that you’ve had some time to think about this conversation in advance. Your loved ones may not have, and they may be uncomfortable with the subject. Planning can help you frame the discussion to put your loved ones at ease.
- Decide who to involve in the conversation.
Deciding who you’d like to involve when talking about your funeral plan depends on your situation, family dynamics, and how much detail you plan to get into. Perhaps you only want to include the person who will be primarily responsible for taking care of your arrangements. Maybe you’d like to have your entire family involved so that everyone is on the same page.
- Think about where you’d like to have the talk.
A quiet, comfortable place works best for this kind of discussion. This can be your home, a café, a restaurant, or another spot that can accommodate the number of people you plan to have. If you think it may become emotional, your home may be best. Consider the feelings of those attending and choose a spot that will put your family at ease.
- Plan how you will start the conversation.
Think about a topic to use as a starting point. Perhaps there is a triggering event you can bring up—the funeral of someone you know, the illness of a family member, something you’ve seen in a TV show or film. This will help put your decisions in context and avoid putting your loved ones in a position where they feel blindsided.
Humor and storytelling can be great ice breakers. If those techniques work for you, take advantage of them. Your goal is to make sure that your loved ones know what you want when the time comes. The conversation shouldn’t be a comedy routine, but it also doesn’t need to be grim.
- Expect questions and concerns.
Understandably, the people who care about you may assume that something is wrong when they hear you talking about funeral arrangements. Explain what led you to think about your end-of-life arrangements, and be prepared to offer reassurances. They may also be curious about why you are making certain decisions—for example, cremation over burial. You don’t have to justify your choices, but offering a simple explanation will help to calm your family’s fears.
- Anticipate emotions and pushback.
This discussion may be easy for some and hard for others. Someone who is particularly resistant or has difficulty understanding why you want to talk about this now may appreciate being excused from the conversation. If they have significant differences with the approach you have chosen for aspects of your funeral, listen carefully to the objections and respond. If you are still in disagreement, let them know you understand their concerns but request that they honor your wishes.
- Keep the Topic Open for Further Conversation
You don’t have to cover everything in one conversation. If you or your loved ones become overwhelmed, set a day and time for a follow-up conversation. If you have one or two individuals designated to take care of the details, it may make sense to meet with them privately. For some people, working in stages is most effective. For example, the first conversation covers the big stuff, such as how you’d like your body handled (i.e., burial versus cremation). Have follow-up to cover the service you’d like and other details.
Thinking about having a conversation with your loved ones about your funeral arrangements can be daunting. Don’t worry, though; you’ve done the work of preparing a plan, so you’ve been through the most challenging part. You may be surprised at how receptive your family is. Often, those involved find the discussion rewarding. They may even share their own plans once you open the topic.
The important thing is that you get the conversation going. Don’t wait until there is a serious situation and you have to rush things. It is never too early to have the talk.
What if you haven’t started your planning or you have yet to put pen to paper?
It is essential that you get your funeral plan down on paper. Funeralwise can help. We designed our Wise Planning Solutions just for that. The Wise Planning System features a vibrant online planner. A key feature of the planner is the ability to designate a “Plan Guardian.” This is a trusted individual (or individuals) who will ensure your plan is carried out when the time comes. Our Wise Protection Plan is an all-inclusive product that helps you create a plan and fund it.
Our website is packed with resources if you would like to learn more about funeral planning and making funeral arrangements. We recommend that you take a few minutes to browse the site even if you already have a plan.