Have you shared your end-of-life wishes with those you love? While these can be difficult conversations to have, it’s important to have them on your own terms – this will help ensure your final wishes are fulfilled and not left up to emotions. Here are how you may want to approach “the talk” with your loved ones.

Step 1: Do your research first.

  • Come prepared with information on BC’s cemetery, cremation and funeral services laws – don’t make assumptions.
  • Gather examples of instances when pre-planning went well, and the positive impact it had on friends and family. You can use these later to start the conversation.

Step 2: Set a time to talk.

  • If possible, arrange to meet your loved one in-person, as opposed to over the phone or through email.
  • Choose a location that’s free from distractions and comfortable, such as at their home.
  • If you’re nervous about bringing up the topic and setting a time, consider mentioning that you read something that prompted you to have this conversation.

Step 3: Have the conversation.

  • Reiterate that you want to ensure your loved one’s wishes are honoured and fulfilled. This conversation is as much for their peace of mind as it is for your own.
  • Keep the talk relaxed and natural. Ask open-ended questions to encourage dialogue, such as “How do you feel…” and “Tell me about…” Here are some possible questions:
    • Do you have an up-to-date will?
    • Have you already made any pre-need arrangements?
    • Where is a copy of your will and pre-need arrangements?
    • Who has power of attorney?
    • What are your thoughts on memorialization, such as funerals and celebrations of life?
    • Do you have a preference for cremation or burial?
  • Reflecting on end-of-life wishes may take time. If necessary, plan a follow-up meeting after your family member has had time to think about what they really want.

Step 4: Follow-up.

  • Involve other family members with the details of your conversation, so everyone is up-to-date.
  • Follow up with any necessary paperwork, such as making or changing a will, or entering into a preneed cemetery or funeral services contract.

Now are you ready to have “the talk”? Here are some things to know about funeral services in general.

1. Making a will is important!

Having a will helps in many ways, including choosing who will care for your minor children, providing direction on funeral and burial preparations and dividing your assets amongst people and organizations. For more information, take a look at our blog post – Writing your will.

2. You can decide where you want your ashes spread.

Did you know that if you state in your will that you’d like your ashes spread in a certain location, that wish must be honoured (as long as the request is not unreasonable)? Find out more about the requirements around spreading ashes in this blog post – Grandpa’s wishes.

3. By law, there’s a system in place as to who gets control of your remains after death.

In BC, there is a chain of command that outlines who gets “rights of disposition.” For example, first rights go to the person you named in your will, second to your spouse. Section 5 of the Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act lists the order of priority in determining who can make decisions regarding final arrangements.

4. Check cemetery bylaws for marker requirements.

As long as your marker complies with the cemetery’s bylaws, a cemetery may not refuse to install a memorial (even if it was purchased elsewhere). Contact the operator of the cemetery to find out the bylaws.

5. Prices can vary.

Pricing for funeral services is not regulated and can vary. Funeral providers are required to display a current price list of all the services and products they offer – just ask!

For more information, visit our funeral services section of our website.


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