Talking to Your Family About Preplanning

two person silouette at sunset

Many people think that they need to be of retirement age or older to begin thinking about their own funeral. The truth is, it’s always a good time to plan ahead, no matter how old you are. No one knows when they’ll take their last breath, but we all know that one day, we will.

Talking about death – especially our own – isn’t exactly dinner conversation, so how do you bring up the topic of preplanning your funeral (or a loved one’s) to the people who need to know about final wishes? We have a few tips to make what can be an uncomfortable conversation a little easier.

1. Start slow.

Whether you’re talking about your own funeral or your parents’ or spouse’s, it’s best to ease the topic into the conversation. Bringing up death out of the blue can be unexpected and jarring. It may cause them to become defensive and less likely to listen to what you have to say. Begin by talking about how you always want them to be taken care of, or chat about favorite family traditions. Or if you know someone who has recently passed, you can use that as an opportunity bring up what you liked (or didn’t) about their funeral services.

2. Talk about the benefits.

Planning a funeral isn’t something one does often, and most people probably aren’t aware of the multitude of details and decisions that go into it. Even modest ceremonies and direct cremations require many decisions to be made and paperwork to fill out, making an emotional time even more stressful. Tell your spouse or adult children that you care about them and their wellbeing, and don’t want to leave them with the logistical and financial burdens of making final arrangements when the time comes. Explain to your parents that you want to be able to be there for your family as they grieve, not in a room talking to a stranger about legal deeds, caskets and flowers. Planning your funeral ahead of time truly is an act of love and compassion.

3. Talk about it more than once.

A discussion as important as this one doesn’t have to happen in one conversation. If you can tell your loved one is feeling uncomfortable, stressed or distraught, you can always continue the conversation another time. Revisit the topic at a time when they’re not tired or distracted, and when they’re more likely to be able to listen and really hear what you’re saying. Over time, your continued discussions will show them just how important this is to you and how helpful preplanning is. They’ll begin to understand the significance and how much easier it will be to follow through with arrangements when you die. 

4. You don’t have to do it alone.

If a family member or close friend also recognizes the benefits of making arrangements in advance, enlist them to join the conversation. An added perspective can help others see the benefits of preplanning. Anthony Funerals is also a great resource for information on advance planning and the many options you have when planning a funeral. Visit our preplanning page to learn more, or view our preplanning workbooks and additional guides to help you discuss advance planning with your loved ones.