None of us likes to consider our own mortality. For our older loved ones, it’s an even more confronting topic and difficult to discuss.
When Lindsay became ill, his family’s priority was to support him through his treatment and keep him positive and as comfortable as possible.
Typical of his generation, Lindsay had always been very private, never sharing personal information – not even with his nearest and dearest. After he passed away, it dawned on the family that nobody knew whether Lindsay would have preferred cremation or burial. At such an emotionally charged time, the question caused quite a dispute.
As parents, we aim to have open dialogue with our children over issues like drugs, sex, etc. But as our parents age, difficult discussions around medical arrangements, Wills, money, etc, are usually put off until something occurs to trigger the talk. Often, by then it’s too late, which is why it’s so important to communicate while you still can.
Once Lindsay’s funeral was over, the family faced more complex questions: did Lindsay have a Will? Was there any insurance? What investments and assets did he have? Trying to locate Lindsay’s paperwork and make sense of his finances became a nightmare.
If only someone had asked him.
What should you talk to your parents about?
If you think about all those things you’d rather not discuss you’re off to a good start.
Before the conversation, consider:
Carefully consider your approach. These are sensitive topics; introduce them gently and tactfully. It may be helpful to involve their executor, financial adviser, or accountant.
During the conversation:
Afterwards, follow up and fulfil any promises you made.
Finally, just when you think your job is done, have the same discussion with your children, only in reverse. Be clear about what you want and why you’re talking to them.
Children don’t want to think about your mortality any more than you do. They’ll think you’re overreacting and probably won’t thank you for the information – not right now anyway. But that’s the nature of kids.
The main thing is that when your time comes, they’ll realise you’ve saved them a lot of heartache.
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