Why It Is Important To Talk About Death (And How To Go About It)

Most of us are comfortable or at least we’ve made peace with growing old.

We can openly talk about our retirement years, enjoying our sunset years travelling, playing with grandchildren and dealing with old age health challenges.

But we stop short of death. Whether it’s our parents or partners, not many people are comfortable talking about it and its implications.

While it’s understandable – no one want to imagine their loved one dying – it’s nevertheless problematic.

It makes someone’s death harder on everyone. And not just emotionally but also financially and logistically.

End of Life Planning

One reason to talk about death is end of life planning. There are so many things to decide and numerous decisions to be made.

Who will have the power of attorney? Who will make a major healthcare decision if the person is unable to? Is the family financially ready to handle all burial arrangements?

That last one is especially important to avoid leaving your loved ones struggling.

Discuss your options regarding funeral insurance to cover some of the costs. Also consider whether you need to start saving up for expenses not covered by an insurance policy.

This is also the time to check whether you are eligible for any funeral benefits (you can get help with funeral costs if you are already receiving other kinds of benefits).

Another advantage of planning early is that you can make your preferences known. Not just preferences regarding the funeral but also end of life care.

Perhaps you’d prefer getting at-home care rather than going to a hospital or maybe you want a say over the choice of medical treatment.

Making a Will

Making a will is in itself accepting that death is around the corner. That’s why many people find it difficult to get started.

But as with end of life planning, a will makes things so much easier for the bereaved family. It reduces the risk of quarrels and ensures your wishes are executed.

And even if you don’t have many assets, a will is still important. As long as you are leaving behind some assets, make a will.

It also helps deal with things like credit card debt, mortgage and any pending bank loans in case you die before they are cleared.

These days it’s really easy to prepare a will. There are plenty of companies that will help you do it all on the phone, meaning you don’t have to travel up and down.

Remember to update your will every few years. For minor changes, you can just add amendments but they must be signed and witnessed.

For major changes, prepare a new will and destroy the old one.

Tips for Talking About Death

Whether it’s your own death, that of a family member or that of your partner, here are some helpful tips on how to approach the matter sensitively.

  • If it’s someone’s death, make a list of all the things you need to cover. This ensures you don’t forget anything, which could cause problems after they die. Also, knowing exactly what you need to talk about makes the discussion easier on everyone.
  • Be sensitive and respectful. Someone may not want to talk about their death because they are afraid or are uncomfortable. Acknowledging their fears and comforting them makes the discussion more open and productive.
  • Don’t force any decisions. Let them feel they are in control. You work is just to ask questions and then sit quietly and let them talk. Do not attempt to force them towards a particular decision. Seniors, like any adult, want to be in control of their own lives.
  • If it is your death, be honest about what you want. Don’t hide your preferences or fear talking about a particular issue. Your family cannot support you fully if they don’t know what you want.
  • Take a break if it gets too emotional. Whether you are discussing your own death or your partner’s, you might be overwhelmed by emotions. If it feels too much, it’s okay to take a break and come back to the discussion after a couple of days. In any case, you can’t plan everything in one go. Just make sure you don’t keep procrastinating until it’s too late.

Leave a Reply