Talking about death with aging parents is likely to be emotionally heavy. The topic brings forth an acknowledgement that life is not forever and the feelings of grief that come along with losing a loved one.
Before bringing up the discussion, be sure to understand your parents and their fears. Realize that they may be dealing with the deaths of peers, friends, siblings, and others in their age-range around them, so they may be particularly sensitive to the topic.
Share with your parents how hard the conversation is for you, because of how much he or she means to you and how you can’t imagine being without them. Also share how much you want to treasure the time you have together and how you’d like to help ensure their needs are met, both in life and upon death.
Ask your parents to discuss death with you and be sure to go at their pace. They may need to take their time in talking about death and also regarding how they want different aspects to be handled.
You should determine what your parents feelings and wishes are not only in death, but also their preferences in the event that they become sick or hospitalized.
At minimum, you should find out if your parents have the following already in place: a will, living will, an estate plan, and what your parents’ wishes are for burial, cremation and/or other funeral arrangements. The burden will be removed off of you and other loved ones if a will, living will, estate plan, and pre-planned funeral are in place.
All-in-all it’s important to connect with your parents in this emotional conversation to ensure that you can confidently execute their wishes. Although it’s a difficult conversation to have, you will feel relieved to have a better understanding of their needs and wants.