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Tips to help you talk to your loved ones about their end-of-life wishes

We know that talking to loved ones about end-of-life wishes is not easy. While these can be uncomfortable conversations, it’s important to have them before it becomes necessary. This can help ensure decisions are made based on information and preferences, as opposed to time constraints and emotions.

If you have yet to have the conversation with your loved ones and you want to broach the subject, here are some tips to consider to start the conversation:

Step 1: Do your research first.

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…”

Possible questions to ask:

    • 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.

More resources are available on our blog:
All cemetery and funeral services related blog posts
Cemetery and funeral services: do you know your rights?
Have you had “The Talk?” Top 5 things you need to know about funeral services
Pre-paying for your end-of-life arrangements…what’s right for you?
Writing your will