If you are considering having a conversation with someone close to you about your funeral and burial wishes then you already know that this topic is a bit more difficult to talk about.
Many find any conversation around actual ‘Death and Dying’ uncomfortable and often leave it as late as they can.
There is also a difference in the way the subject is received if you are considering having this conversation and you are already poor in health. Your family members may find this time very difficult and there will be a lot of tears – this is something you may have to prepare yourself for.
But in reality – there is no too early or too late when it comes to talking about your send-off preferences.
Starting the Conversation:
At this point, you may already have a person in mind as to whom you want to speak to about your funeral and burial wishes.
But how do you actually start talking about it?
Before you start the conversation assess whether the person you chose to have a talk with would appreciate a direct or indirect approach.
A direct approach is letting the person know in advance that you would like to have a conversation with them about your funeral and burial wishes and setting a date, time, and place to do so.
This approach works best if the person you would like to share your wishes with is someone who is open-minded and frank.
Telling someone in advance about what you want to speak to him or her about gives him or her time to process what you are asking him or her for. This also allows him or her to mentally prepare for the conversation you are to have.
An indirect approach is easing the conversation about your wishes in through casual conversations by talking about someone you know or famous who may have passed recently or a news article or online post about death and dying.
This approach works best if the person you would like to share your wishes with is someone you are quite unsure about as to how they feel about death and dying.
Easing the topic into casual conversations will allow you to assess how the person is about the topic and whether to continue or not with the conversation.
Once the topic has been raised you can follow up with open-ended questions such as “Have you thought about whether you would like to be buried or cremated?” or a more broad question “What type of funeral would you like?”
Asking the person their preferences creates an open space where you can share yours as they share their thoughts on funeral and burial wishes.
Make sure to get their agreement at the end of the conversation that they will carry out your plan when the time comes.
What if they resist or get upset?
Part of the reality of death and dying is that people are not comfortable talking about it as some people may feel overwhelmed with the thought that you living without a loved one.
If they do not wish to discuss it or they get upset that you have asked or started the conversation you can reassure them that you are not trying to upset them. Let the person know that the reason you are having the conversation is so they do not have to make the difficult decisions about your funeral and burial wishes.
Letting them know that planning ahead is a way for you to ease the burden of making decisions during a tough time and that it is a conversation being had out of love.
At this point, you may get their agreement to continue your conversation or you may choose to leave it at a later time.
Remember to reassure the other person and let them know that it is to make things easier at a difficult time.
If you need more support or assistance, you can visit the Dying Matters Support and Community site for resources.