How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Death

How to Talk to Your Loved Ones About Death

Death can be a difficult subject to bring up. If you struggle to discuss your end-of-life plans with your family, you are not alone.

It’s hard to imagine a day in the future when someone you care deeply for is no longer with you. Creating a safe, open space with your loved ones to discuss end-of-life preferences is a gift to everyone involved.  

You might be surprised to learn that there are even proven benefits to talking about death with those you love.

The first is that it lightens an immense burden for your loved ones when you clearly explain what you’d like to happen after your death. These conversations also generally lead to lessened anxiety, stronger relationships and a sense of peace. 

Before you get started, spend some time alone thinking about what your preference is for end-of-life.

  • Would you like to donate your body to science?
  • Is organ donation important to you, if it’s possible?
  • What type of final disposition would you like?
  • Who should make these decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to? 

We’re here to provide you with some helpful ideas on how to start this conversation with your loved ones.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Take time before your intended conversation to think through what you want to happen at the end of your life. Consider end-of-life care, funeral arrangements, final disposition and other factors that are important to you. 

Consider the Details

Once you’ve established the basis of what is important to you, it’s vital that you put those decisions in writing. Think through who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable, your preference for lifesaving versus comfort care treatment, and what legal paperwork should be established to support your plans.

Gather your Loved Ones

Reach out to the individuals in your life who should be a part of this conversation. This could be family, close friends, caregivers or even doctors. It’s helpful to invite everyone with the understanding that a serious conversation is needed so they can prepare themselves as well. 

Start Slow

Try to ease your way into the conversation. Start by explaining why it’s important to you that everyone is on the same page, how much you care about each of your loved ones, and that you have put a lot of thought into how you’d like your end-of-life care to be handled. 


Be prepared to listen openly to your loved ones’ perspectives as you move through the conversation. This is a challenging conversation for everyone, so try to make space for them to share how they feel about your decisions as well. 

It is not always easy to approach the conversation around death with your loved ones, but there are helpful tools available to you. If you need a checklist for getting documents in order, consider this list. For a comparison between burial, cremation, university donation, organ donation, and body donation to science, consider this article. If you’d like to be a body donor, take a look at this registration checklist before you get started. 

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