Talking to Your Parents about Putting a Plan in Place

The most meaningful adult child/parent discussions about funeral wishes are handled when the adult child has two components in place: a written funeral plan of his/her own and well thought out talking points. With those two pieces, it is often easier to show your parents why they, too, should preplan their funeral. Successful discussions often follow along these points:

  1. Health. Put your family's concerns at ease by leading with the truth about your/their health.
  2. Death is a fact of life. Everyone dies and none of us knows when we will die. Acknowledge that it is not an easy topic to discuss.
  3. Reasons you preplanned. Let your family know why. Usually it is because you love them and would like to continue to care from them even after you are gone by making your death easier on them emotionally and financially.
  4. Present your plan. You don't have to tell them everything—choose what you think they need to know now and let them know where they can find your plan at the time of your death. Let them know by your tone and words what is up for family debate and what is not.
  5. Specific ideas. Tell them that you had specific ideas on how you want your funeral to be carried out and it made you think that your parents probably also have ways they would like their funerals to be carried out.
  6. Help. Ask them if you can talk about their plans and if you could help them put together a plan. Tell them why it would be important to you.

Example

Mom and Dad, Dan and I asked you here today to talk about a difficult topic. I want you to know that we are both completely healthy—this has nothing to do with our health today.

But what if I weren't healthy or I was in a fluke accident? It is a sad topic to think about, but some of the hardest funerals to plan are those that are completely unexpected. One of the last things I would ever want is for something to happen to me and in turn leave you and Dan unprepared. I would be saddened to watch you discuss and debate my funeral arrangements with Dan, while taking care of the rest of the family and dealing with the stress of my death.

Dan and I have preplanned our funerals. It gave me great piece of mind. If you're up for it we'll share some of our plans.

When we were finished, I started to think about you. I had definite thoughts of my funeral. You must have definite thoughts about yours too. The day I lose you will be one of the most difficult days of my life. How will I be able to handle putting together your funeral on that day? How will I be able to make all those decisions with Tina and Jeff when we don't always have the same ideas on unimportant topics during the best of times?

I was hoping we could set up a time to talk about this. I'd like to do this for you so that we can both have peace of mind. It would mean so much to me and I'd be willing to help each step of the way or by just sharing with you some of the things I learned throughout the process that might be helpful.

Another Attempt
If your parents decline after a couple attempts you may want to approach it another way:

If it is too difficult for you to think about it right now, would you mind if I plan the basics of yours out now and run some ideas by you so when the time comes I will know I'm making the right choices? Since I don't know your wishes, I fear that I will make the wrong choices and question them for years after your death.

Talking to Your Parents about Putting a Plan in Place