The life-and-death talk we all need to have
Written by Director of Communications, Francesca Coles:
Following on from my last blog on the best way to start talking about death with your loved ones (which in short, is to think about and share your own ‘good death’ story), today I’ve put together some questions that might help nurture the conversation.
Before we begin, it’s really important that if you’re going to ask these questions, that you’re ready to listen well, and you’re present in the conversation. The Dying Matters campaign has some excellent advice on how to listen well.
Question 1: Remember the time when…?
Start by referring to a familiar experience: “remember when Grandma/Uncle Alwyn died. Well, I’ve been thinking about it, and how I want it to be different when I die… have you thought about it at all?”
From this, you’ll be able to gauge how open to conversation your loved one is, which should help lead the way to the next question…
Question 2: What do you think will matter to you at the end of your life…?
To get the conversation going, it’s possible you might need to suggest some answers, like:
- Being in the comfort of your own home
- Being cared for in the best hospital
- Having the opportunity to say goodbye to your loved ones
- Feeling assured that all medical efforts have been used to keep you alive
- Or being assured that you’re not being kept alive artificially
- Knowing exactly who will take care of your medical decisions
- Knowing exactly who will take care of your financial affairs
Question 3: Who would you like to make sure your final wishes are taken care of when you’re no longer here…?
This is a good opportunity to discuss whom your loved one trusts to uphold and take care of their final wishes. And if the answer is ‘you’, then it’s an opportunity to ask what their final wishes are. Find ways to ask them about what’s important to them, including:
- Their preference as to where their body rests
- Whether a specific type of burial or cremation is preferred
- If they want a funeral service, and what arrangements they’d like
- Whether they have a funeral plan or a preferred funeral provider
- If they have a Will and if its up to date. And where is it recorded.
- Whether all their financial affairs in order.
- What they’d like to happen to personal digital information/social media accounts.
And if they don’t have answers to these questions – offer to help them in working it all out. It might be a case of them not really knowing where to start. We’ll happily work with you both to make sure all things are considered, so get in touch if you’d like any guidance through this process.
Just remember – ‘being blunt’ is rarely a good way to start a meaningful conversation. We all know we’re going to die. But the subject of death is difficult for a whole host of reasons. Be patient, give it time, and be open to ideas that are not your own. Remember, there is no ‘one way’ to die.