How To Talk About Final Wishes With A Loved One

Discussing final wishes, whether in relation to your own or those of a loved one, is naturally a daunting and difficult topic. However, the time comes in everyone’s life when the subject needs to be broached.

Leaving it until you absolutely have to can sometimes mean it’s too late, or the discussion takes place under stressful circumstances, and the outcome is less than ideal. Therefore, it’s best to think ahead, and plan for a fitting and dignified way to honour your own or your loved one’s last wishes.

Here are some tips on how to make the discussion more comfortable and positive.


Choose the right place and time

Wait for a relaxed moment when neither of you is too tired after a long day, or distracted by other problems. Make sure you are not likely to be interrupted by pets or children, turn off the TV, and put your phone on silent.

Some people find it easier to open up when they are walking side by side, or on a car journey, rather than sitting face to face. Alternatively, you could occupy yourself with a simple task, such as sorting laundry, to help reduce any tension in the situation.


Plan what you want to say in advance

You want to avoid confronting the other person with a difficult question or request out of the blue. Therefore, take some time to think of a sensitive way to introduce the topic. This could be starting a discussion about your favourite music or flowers, for example.

Raising the topic of a mutual acquaintance’s passing could also be another way to broach the subject. You could use the moment to ask an open-ended question about what your loved one’s own funeral wishes might be.

If it is in relation to your own funeral, you could start by mentioning whether you would prefer a burial or cremation. Simply talking about a favourite location or countryside walk could lead to a discussion about where you or the other person would like their ashes to be scattered, in the case of a cremation.

If you are talking about your own wishes, it may help to jot down some notes in advance to make sure you say what you intend to. Similarly, if you are discussing the wishes of another person, jot down what they say to make sure you don’t have to repeat the conversation.


Listen carefully

When discussing an emotive topic, it can be easy to get caught up in your own feelings, and not really listen to the other person. Work on your active listening skills, and take some time to think over what your loved one has said before responding.

When we are surprised, angry, or upset, it can lead to us becoming defensive and trying to shut down the debate. Pausing to consider your words carefully first will help you to listen without judging, and will lead to a more open and calm discussion.


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