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The Importance of Talking About Death While You’re Still Healthy

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How do you want your closest family members and friends to remember you following your passing? If you’re unsure, you’re not alone.

Most people struggle to discuss death, as it forces us to confront our own mortality and consider the future of those we leave behind. And while the majority agree it’s important to have end-of-life planning documents in place before passing, only 40% of people actually have a will or trust.

Having discussions before a death is near provides individuals with the tools to control their healthcare decisions at a point in time when they can fully participate in the conversation. This prevents you and your family from having to make rushed decisions when emotions are high.

In her TED Talk—an organization that offers free online presentations focused on “ideas worth spreading”—change professional Michelle Knox challenges each of us to flip the script when it comes to death and actually have conversations with our loved ones—before it’s too late.

Below, we dive deeper on the importance of discussing death while you’re still healthy.

Reflect On Core Values

What core values do you live your life by? Whatever they are, your death should be no different.

Think of it in the lens of your family. If you believe family is of fundamental importance, then you would do everything in your power to protect them, right? The same rings true with end-of-life planning.

By reflecting on your core values, you can plan ahead to give you and your loved ones peace of mind. But, it goes beyond just that. Knox suggests that discussing topics like resuscitation and organ donation can help you experience your final moments in a way that aligns with your wishes. This can be helpful to your surviving loved one’s healing process, as it reassures both you and them that every final decision was what you wanted—even after your passing. No “what ifs” or “what would they have wanted?”

Make Informed Decisions

Most people like to feel in control over decisions that affect their lives. But unless wishes are in writing, it can be difficult for surviving family members to decide exactly how you envision your final days, along with your preferred disposition method and final arrangements.

Knox notes discussing death while you’re still healthy allows you and your family to make informed decisions before grief or exhaustion set in.

By taking ownership, you can specify whether you’d like a formal gathering or a celebration of life. You can explain your desire for personalization, including flower arrangements, videos tributes and more. Or, whether you’d prefer memorialization by the sea or sky.

This helps your family carry out final wishes with a funeral home or crematory, exactly how you documented. As Knox puts it:

“I believe if we discuss death as part of day-to-day living, we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on our core values, share them with our loved ones, and then our survivors can make informed decisions without fear or regret of having failed to honor our legacy.”

Have Open Conversations

Having open conversations about death allows surviving family members and friends to experience a healthy bereavement.

Your loved ones can feel at peace knowing everything was handled how you would have wanted. This gives them the necessary time to grieve and say goodbye, and feel unburdened by the details of casket prices or funeral plots. This takes away any feelings of anger or guilt.  

“If we talk about death more, we will become comfortable with the emotions we experience around grief.”

Learn How Preplanning Can Save You and Your Family Time, Money and Worry

Knowing there are many decisions to make following a death, you can lift the emotional and financial burden from your family by preplanning. If you’re interested in preplanning final arrangements, we encourage you to download the Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements. Our guide explains what preplanning is, and offers insight on the benefits of arranging ahead of time.

Download our preplanning guide


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