If you’ve ever experienced firsthand planning final arrangements, you know the stress it can cause. Between planning and paying for services, there are upwards of 125 decisions to be made following a death. This leaves little to no time for the surviving loved ones to process the loss—let alone grieve.
It’s inevitable that all individuals age, even close loved ones like parents. As their aging continues, you may realize that final arrangements for them will someday fall on you. Fortunately, many individuals choose to preplan and/or prepay services as an alternative to having others make end-of-life decisions for them.
While discussing end-of-life arrangements is a difficult conversation to have with an aging parent, it gives you (the one day surviving family member) peace of mind to know their final wishes are in writing.
To help you discuss prearrangements with an aging parent, we offer tips below.
1. Ease into the conversation.
Before diving into discussions about preplanning, take time to reflect on family memories, including birthdays, vacations, holidays and more with your parent(s) in a relaxed setting.
Talking about life’s fondest memories can help you feel connected to one another, spurring meaningful and memorable conversation. During this time, you’ll learn about the things that matter most to your parents. For instance, they may have a favorite flower, photo or song that remind them of a cherished time in their life— all of which that can be incorporated into final arrangements.
Asking light-hearted questions about your parents’ life can help you segue into deeper discussions about end-of-life wishes and ultimately preplanning.
2. Explain the benefits of preplanning.
Once you’re on the topic of preplanning, explain to your parents what it means and whom it affects. Help them understand the benefits of preplanning, and how it can save surviving family members from sudden financial burdens and stressful decisions during an already emotional time.
Additionally, help them understand that they have a choice in the matter. Rather than leaving plans to you, they can make selections around the type of service they want.
Furthermore, when a parent preplans, all final wishes are documented, so there are no hard decisions to stress over. This not only helps you as their child, but their surviving spouse and other family members, too. It’s an act of love, giving you the proper time to grieve with those who matter most.
3. Pay attention for signs of stress.
As you delve deeper into the details of preplanning, you may notice your parent(s) withdraw from the conversation. If this is the case, don’t feel like you need to push them into making a decision right then and there.
You’ve given them a lot of information to consider. Give them time to reflect on the conversation alone or with their significant other.
Once time has passed, find ways to bring it up again. Offer to help them get started by researching local funeral homes that offer preplanning. Or, consider providing them with the resources they need to research in solitude.
This will give them peace of mind knowing they’re not alone when it comes to end-of-life planning.
Learn How Preplanning Can Save You and Your Family Time, Money and Worry
At Busch Funeral and Crematory Services, we’re here to help you and your whole family with preplanning arrangements. For more information on the financial and emotional benefits of preplanning, we encourage you to download the Seniors’ Guide to Funeral Arrangements: How Preplanning Can Save Time, Money and Worry.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2016, and has been updated for 2018 to be more comprehensive.
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