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Discussing Preplanning with Parents

How to Discuss Preplanning with Your Parents

As our parents advance in age, the necessity of candid conversations about end-of-life preparations becomes increasingly important. While discussing funeral arrangements may appear somewhat awkward or uncomfortable, below is some practical guidance on encouraging aging parents to think in advance about preplanning their funeral arrangements.

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Emphasize the Significance of Preplanning

Starting conversations about preplanning funeral arrangements with our aging parents can be challenging. However, it is important to ensure that their wishes are documented and honored and to alleviate the burden on their adult children of having to plan while grieving.

Preplanning also spares the surviving spouse from having to make weighty decisions during a period of profound grief. It is not just a means of reducing stress for yourself and your children but also for your other parent.

Use a Practical and Unbiased Approach 

There is no reason to dwell on the worst-case scenario, as this may make your parents uncomfortable. You can frame your conversation around what holds the greatest significance for them. Many individuals have reservations about their own mortality. Reassure them that these conversations are not about the end itself but rather about making thoughtful decisions and providing peace of mind for their loved ones.

  • Encourage them to express their concerns freely. 
  • Listen with empathy and understanding. 
  • Recognize that discussing death and dying is a complex topic for everyone. 

Select a time and place for the conversation where you are least likely to be interrupted or distracted.

Empathy, Support and Cooperation

Rather than taking control of the decision-making process, approach preplanning as a collaborative effort. Assure your parents that you are there to offer assistance and guidance while respecting their autonomy and preferences. Share information about various options, such as burial, cremation, or environmentally friendly funerals, and convey the message that their choices will be honored.

  • Listen without judgment to their preferences and opinions. 
  • Contemplate making your own arrangements concurrently. 
  • Acknowledge that your parents may have differing views (e.g., cremation versus burial) and gently defuse the conversation if it becomes contentious.

Take Practical Steps 

Once your parents are open to the idea of preplanning, assist them with the practical steps to make it happen. You can prepare by researching options online or giving one of our preplanning specialists a call. We would be happy to provide you with all the information and materials you will need to help your parents along.

  • Compile a list of questions and concerns about prepaid funeral plans. 
  • Respect their choices regarding burial or cremation, funeral ceremonies, and any specific requests they may have.
  • Obtain information about burial benefits for veterans if your parents served in the armed forces. 

It is unlikely that you will cover all aspects in a single conversation. Adopt a "short and frequent" approach, allowing your parents to set the pace as much as possible. Once the ice is broken, revisiting the topic becomes more manageable.

Share Personal Anecdote

At times, recounting personal stories or experiences can provide reassurance and motivation. Share your own experiences or anecdotes from friends who have engaged in the preplanning process with their parents. Discuss how it brought them peace of mind and eased the grieving process for their families.

Prepaid funeral arrangements can ease your parents' concerns about you and other family members while ensuring their wishes are followed. Starting a conversation on funeral preplanning may not be the easiest thing, but many families emerge from it feeling closer. 

If you need help, we have preplanning advisors happy to answer your questions and guide you along this important path.

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