Talking End-of-Life Decisions With Your Parents

Initiating a conversation about the end of one’s life can be a difficult and emotionally challenging experience. Although many families avoid it, having an honest dialogue about wishes and plans for care is essential to ensuring the family honors their loved one’s desires. Consider the following tips on talking end-of-life decisions with your parents:

Ask If They’re Ready to Discuss End-of-Life Planning

Before starting the conversation, ask your parents if they feel comfortable discussing their end-of-life wishes. If not, don’t be discouraged; it can take time to open up about these topics. Ask them to keep you in mind if they ever change their minds.

Another tactic to initiate the conversation is to talk about your own concerns about end-of-life planning and ask for your parent’s perspective. This may give you an opening to turn the discussion toward your parent’s ideas for their own end-of-life care.

Don’t Presume

It can be easy to make assumptions about how your parents would like their end-of-life wishes handled, but it’s important to ask questions and remember that everyone has unique needs and desires in this situation. Although you may think you know your parents well, they lived a lot of life before you came into the picture, and there are things that parents don’t talk about with even their adult children. Respect their desires even if they are different than what you expected.

Listen Carefully and Keep an Open Mind

Listening is an essential part of any conversation, but it’s especially important when discussing end-of-life wishes. Remain open to hearing and understanding your parents’ perspectives, and try your best to put aside your own opinions. After all, you are trying to discern what they want, not what makes you most comfortable.

Your parents may surprise you by asking that their remains be cremated rather than buried in a casket with an elaborate funeral service. If your parents live on the East Coast, Apyre’s inexpensive cremation services in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Florida, may better match your parents’ desire to minimize costs for their surviving children and family.

Be Prepared for Difficult Questions

Your parents may ask difficult questions about how much responsibility you’re willing to accept. Be honest with yourself and your parents when answering these questions. It’s okay if you’re not able to give all the answers right away. It’s also absolutely necessary to tell them if you don’t think you could be the one to decide to remove life-sustaining treatment. Let your parents know you are willing to work together to figure out a plan that works best for everyone.

What To Do if They Won’t Talk About It

If your parents refuse to talk about their end-of-life plans, don’t give up. Consider consulting with a counseling professional who can help you and your family navigate the conversation.

Having an open dialogue about end-of-life decisions is an important step in providing your parents with the care they need and deserve. Respect their wishes, listen without judgment, and be prepared to provide support throughout the process. With patience and understanding, it’s possible to have meaningful conversations about end-of-life planning that will benefit everyone involved.