You never know when a loved one will no longer be around, and most people wouldn’t want to acknowledge that fact. However it’s so important to discuss a loved one’s final wishes, as it creates an opportunity to understand what their preferences are for medical care and funeral arrangements. It can be greatly comforting to know ahead of time their exact wishes before it’s too late.
This is easier said than done, it can feel incredibly uncomfortable and unsettling to discuss or even think about it. It also never seems to feel urgent. You can always think “I’ll talk to them closer to the time”, but life can change in an instant, so you should try to talk with them as soon as you can. Often the urge to talk is sparked from a loved one’s ill health, but they may not be able to talk as easily during this time, so speaking with them when you can will be tough, but must be done.
There are many ways to pre-plan a funeral, with many options of personalising a funeral available to suit whatever need your loved one may have.
If you’re struggling to find a way to initiate the conversation, here are a few recommendations to help you feel more comfortable and make the conversation with your loved one a little easier:
- You could try having a practice run with a friend you trust to help overcome the initial nervousness
- Think of an appropriate time and location to talk that will help your loved one feel most at ease. Some people prefer a 1-on-1 conversation, while others may prefer the comfort of family and friends around them. Would talking in the house be more comforting or the park for example?
- Understand that this is a growing conversation that will become easier the more you talk. Not everything has to be discussed at once, acknowledge the process.
- Asking for permission may sound trivial, but the discussion will involve a lot of emotions and personal details, and your loved one should feel comfortable and willing to talk about it, knowing you respect their wishes. Be patient with them as well, it’s not an easy discussion to have. Try not to judge.
Another thing you could do is to know the most important questions you have. There can be many things to discuss and every detail won’t be apparent at first, such as things to put in a coffin. Here’s some things you could ask:
- Who will handle legal documents?
- If you’re diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, would you prefer Palliative Care (Maintain quality of life) or Hospice Care (Provide a pain-free death)?
- Do you have any thoughts on your final arrangements?
- What can I do to best support you and your choices?
- Do you have preferences for burial or cremation?
There are many things you could do from here, in efforts of respecting the wishes of the dying. Knowing they have the support behind them could put them at a great ease. They may feel that you have perhaps given up hope, and your own emotions, anxiety, sadness and anger could make a conversation very difficult.
Have them understand that your intentions are to prepare just in case. Do what you can for them, but if they don’t want anything, then try to respect that as well.
If you need any form of information or assistance during this time, don’t hesitate to contact Southern Cross Funerals in Sans Souci, who can help answer any questions you may have