Starting the Conversation
We want to assure you that this conversation is easier than you may think. Bringing your family together for an honest conversation about your plans and wishes is the first step. We consistently see that families who take this walk together have greater peace of mind.
Now is the time to have the conversation, not when you are in crisis. End-of-life planning is more about leaving well. It’s about documenting and sharing your plans with those who are most important to you.
1. If you feel awkward, then acknowledge how you feel: "I have something on my mind that is really uncomfortable to talk about, but I feel we need to. I wouldn't be a good [son/daughter/wife] if I didn't find out about your wishes for care if you get to the point where you can't express them yourself."
2. Many people who are sick care very deeply about not causing their family members pain or anguish. So we suggest reassuring them that talking over their funeral or memorial service options will make it easier on the ones they love.
3. Alternatively, if you know that the person you care for is very particular about how things are done, you might want to start the conversation by emphasizing his or her ability to remain in control, even at the end, by writing down detailed funeral plans. If your loved one has a serious illness, chances are they feel powerless about their disease and their situation. By planning ahead for their care, they will at least be able to direct those things that are still within their power to control.
4. While the person may have very clear thoughts about what he or she wants in terms of care at the end of life, make sure that an Advance Health Care Directive is completed in addition to a detailed funeral plan. Why? Because at the time of need, some family members may not agree. If all the paperwork is complete and available, then there is no question about what will be done.
We recommend that you keep several copies of your your AHCD and distribute them liberally so they are not difficult to find when they are needed. For instance, we believe that family members should have a copy, as well as your doctor, local hospital and your trust attorney. Some of our clients even keep a copy in the glove compartment of their car and at home in their desk. If the person you care for is homebound, you may want to keep a copy in a drawer by the bedside so it is readily available for emergency medical personnel in case there is a call to 911.
Your funeral director will have a copy of your funeral plan on file at the mortuary. We encourage your to make sure that each family member who will be closely involved in the arrangement proceedings have a copy as well.