Some people put off taxes. Others put off exercise. But a large portion of the population put off end of life planning. End-of-life planning involves considering and preparing for how you would like the moments leading up to and after your death to be.
While our post-work lives are fun to consider, especially when you’ve planned for comfort and stability, the end-of-life thing is a bit of a downer. Yet, much like retirement, some simple planning can help ensure you and your loved ones remain at ease – and dare we say content – when your final moments arrive.
That’s because with proper planning, not only will your final wishes be met, but you’ll be more content in knowing you won’t be passing along any unnecessary burdens to your loved ones. This can come in the form of difficult decisions related to your funeral and burial and unknowns when it comes to passing along wealth and legacy.
Consider end-of-life planning (also known as advance care planning) as your final gift to friends and family and an exclamation point on a life well-lived.
Of course, for an end-of-life plan to come to full fruition, it’s important to communicate information and desires to loved ones you’ll leave behind. This is where end-of-life planning can become quite difficult.
How Do I Start the End-of-Life Conversation?
As much as you may wish to procrastinate when it comes to fully acknowledging your mortality by making plans for your final days, such efforts can be even more difficult for loved ones to face.
After all, death is a source of great sadness and tragedy in our culture, and we tend to talk around it through platitudes and euphemisms rather than have frank discussions about our mortality. This is a barrier, to be sure, but it’s not insurmountable.
Here are some tips for having the dreaded “talk” with your loved ones.
Make a List of Those You Want to Speak With
This is a no-brainer, yet it’s essential not to neglect this step. Your end-of-life plans should be for those closest to you and for those who will (or may) be involved in health and end-of-life care decisions, funeral arrangements, estate planning, and so on. Who are these people? You’ll need to have conversations with each of them.
Have a Plan Outlined
If you’ve worked a professional-level job with lots of meetings, you know to never go into a meeting unprepared. This includes having a plan (or ideas of a plan) ready as well as an agenda of what you want to discuss. Sure, end-of-life conversations will be much more personal – perhaps even emotional – but it’s still critical to have a plan to stay focused and not overlook important information and topics.
Be Direct but Empathetic
While end-of-life discussions can become emotional, you mustn’t try to soften the discussion by talking around truths related to your life, needs, and wishes during and after your final days. With such discussions, clarity and specificity are essential, even if it triggers complicated feelings with you and your loved ones.
Come with Receipts
Don’t just make this a talk. Share what you have in writing and any information your loved ones may need when arranging for your final days and tributes. This may include your Last Will and Testament, wealth and estate plans, any decisions or arrangements you’ve already made with a funeral home and cemetery, etc.
Be Ready to Hear Concerns
As serious discussions generally go, those you speak with will likely have plenty of questions and concerns – perhaps even some ideas and requests of their own. Be ready and willing to first-and-foremost listen to these concerns with an open mind, knowing that they come from a place of fear, anxiety, and love. Also, your loved ones may bring up important issues you may not have considered.
Have Fun with It (We’re Not Kidding)
Yes, these talks are not generally meant to be fun, but no one says they’re supposed to be all gloom and doom. Depending on the relationship you have with the loved one with whom you’re speaking, it may be perfectly reasonable to start your end-of-life discussion over, say, a board game or a game of cards. Deep conversations like these present a great opportunity to bond, reflect on great memories, and even have a few laughs as, say, you consider your “fantasy funeral.”
Bring in the Experts
We at Hospice of Redmond know these end-of-life discussions aren’t easy, even for the closest of families. If you need advice or help getting started, don’t hesitate to reach out to our staff. We are happy to hear your story, help you develop a strategy for end-of-life care, then create a game plan for broaching the topic with friends and family.
To access any services from Hospice of Redmond, please call us at 541-548-7483 or reach out through our website. We’d love to meet you.