We should all be encouraged to talk about death – it is an inevitable part of life. But recent studies show that nearly half of British people admit to finding it very awkward to talk about.
Although it might feel uncomfortable, not discussing your wishes with your family means that everyone is in the dark when you die. This could lead to family fallouts and unnecessary stress for everyone involved at an already difficult time. This can all be avoided if we get a bit better about having those healthy conversations.
If you are worried about how to broach the topic of death with your family, whether it’s about your wishes or theirs, here are our top tips for how to have the all important chat with your nearest and dearest.
Have you got all the answers? Don’t worry if you don’t, but it will help if you have a think in advance what questions your family and loved ones might have for you. Whether it’s where you want to be buried or who you want to leave that much loved family heirloom with, if you’ve thought about what you want to happen and, importantly why, it will help the conversation go much more smoothly.
One of our Hedgeholders had no idea that their mother wanted to be buried in Wales before they sat down and talked about it. Understanding why this was such a special place for her also meant that they got to learn more about their mother’s early life and about their family history.
Raise the topic- it’s never too late to talk
The first step, for some, will be the hardest. You might be worried about causing conflict or about having to be direct. Have a positive mindset – if you go into the conversation thinking that it will go well then it probably will.
Bite the bullet and let your family know you’d like to discuss your future plans – the sooner the better, but it’s never too late. Think about who should be aware of your wishes. For example, leaving one child in the dark whilst you have the conversation with another could cause hurt feelings.
Talk face to face
Where possible, talk in person, not over the phone or by text. Ideally, choose somewhere calm and quiet that you will both feel comfortable. You might benefit from having the conversation on neutral territory.
One of our Hedgeholders decided to take the bull by the horns and invited her Dad to dinner at his favourite restaurant. They sat together for the evening and planned his funeral, including what coffin he’d like and his preference on flowers. By having the conversation in person, in a relaxed environment, meant it was a positive experience for both of them.
Come with an open mind
There might be some surprises. If you have never talked about your wishes with your family, then they are likely to have made some assumptions as to what you might want. It is important for both parties to come to the discussion with an open mind.
Be honest, be clear and listen. You need to let your family know what you want, but they might have questions. If everyone feels listened to and understood it will help the conversation to go more smoothly. If someone responds in a way that’s unexpected, give them the benefit of the doubt and try to understand their point of view.
Get it all out on the table
You don’t have to talk about every topic in one go, but don’t avoid the subjects that may be the most difficult.
If you think that there may be disagreements between family members about who will be left what in your Will, then it’s sensible to discuss it. You might think it will be easier to not to, but it’s better for your family if there are no surprises – inheritance disputes often arise because the contents of a family member’s Will was not what they expected.
Accept that it may be difficult to hear
This may be an emotional conversation and your loved ones might find it very difficult to listen to you talk about the topic of death. Everyone is different, so try to be understanding of others’ reactions.
You might find it helpful to take breaks or some may need to cry. Let this happen and understand that reactions will vary.
Talk to us
Everyone knows that having a Will is important, so why does it so often end up at the bottom of the to-do list? Making a Will gives you the peace of mind of knowing that your loved ones will be protected from unnecessary heartbreak and uncertainty upon your death.
Our expert team are friendly and approachable and will be at your side to guide you every step of the way. Get in touch to make your Wills appointment today.