Have you discussed your end of life plans with your children?

End of life conversation

Have you discussed your end of life plans with your children?

The end of life conversation is not an easy conversation to have, and that’s why many people simply choose not to partake in the discussion. But not discussing your plans with your adult children can sometimes lead to issues down the road. Issues that can easily be prevented with a simple conversation. With families gathering together for the holiday season, now may be your best opportunity to have this important discussion.

We have compiled a few ideas to help you broach the subject with finesse and tact.

First, identify what your wishes are.  Include the end of life topics you wish to cover in the conversation.  Write it down so you can keep the conversation on topic.

Examples of typical end of life issues may be:

  • Health care measures you wish to have taken in the event of your incapacitation
  • Responsibilities of individual family members
  • Location of important papers such as life insurance, will, trust, deeds, Power of Attorney, financial obligations, gifts
  • Type of memorial services you wish to have
  • Your wishes regarding funeral, cremation or body donation for medical research

Second, schedule a meeting at a comfortable and casual location such as your home or a casual restaurant with privacy.

Third, inform the participants that you want to discuss family business matters that are important to you. Let them know that it won’t take long and you appreciate their attendance and attention.

And lastly, you may want to bring in supporting materials to aid the conversation.  For example, if you are discussing the location of important papers bring a handout with the information in clear bullet points. If you are disclosing your desire for body donation, bring along the program materials or FAQs so everyone can have a copy. You can print pages directly off the Science Care website or simply tell your children to visit the website.  If you have an advanced directive documenting your end of life healthcare preferences, bring a copy and go over that so your family understands what you want and has the opportunity to ask questions.

Preparation is the key to any successful communication.  When talking to loved ones about potentially sensitive issues do so with honesty and compassion for the best results!

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