What flashes before your eyes when we mention having difficult conversations with parents? Being scolded as a child? The dreaded birds and bees lecture? For many of us, the challenging conversations that come to mind are ones that have come and gone; Ones where your parents talked to you about important subjects and you listened obediently. But there’s another challenging conversation that you’ll need to have with your parents. And it’s about a topic that very few of us are comfortable with: Death.
Death is a difficult subject for anyone to discuss, but it’s especially tough when it’s with your parents. No one wants to think about their parents dying, but the reality is that it will happen someday, and it’s important to be prepared when it does. “Why?” you might ask.
- To ensure that their end-of-life wishes are respected.
- To get their affairs whipped into order now and lighten your burden down the road.
- To help them come to terms with their own mortality.
- To decrease everyone’s anxieties surrounding the topic.
- To better understand your own feelings about death.
All of that said, we understand that it’s a delicate topic and getting the conversation started is easier said than done. Here are some tips for how to approach a discussion about death with aging parents.
1. Try to keep an open mind. It can be difficult to hear your parents talk about their own death, but it’s important to listen to what they have to say. They may have some valuable insights that you can use to prepare for your own future.
2. Be respectful. This is a sensitive topic, and you should avoid coming across as judgmental or condescending. Instead, try to show your parents that you’re interested in hearing their thoughts and respecting their wishes.
3. Be prepared for difficult conversations. Death is not an easy topic to talk about, and you may need to have several discussions before you reach a consensus. Be patient and keep the lines of communication open.
4. Come up with talking points ahead of time. Although this conversation shouldn’t be structured, there are some important points to make sure you cover. Do they have a will? What about funeral wishes? The logistical stuff might feel out of place when you’re discussing something so emotional and personal but taking the time to figure out the brass tacks now will save you the burden down the road. In our previous blog, we shared 13 estate planning items to add to your to-do list to get you started.
5. Seek professional help if needed. If you find that you’re struggling to have this conversation on your own, consider seeking out the help of a trained professional such as a therapist or counselor. They can provide guidance and support as you navigate this difficult but important conversation. A financial advisor can also help to guide the conversation and ensure that you cover all of the essential estate planning tasks.
At The Humphreys Group, we’ve acknowledged time and again that, for many of us and for a variety of complex reasons, it’s not easy to manage crucial conversations about finances with those closest to us. But you don’t have to do it alone. Contact our team to learn more about the steps you can take to help your parent prepare for the inevitable.