Talking to Parents About Funeral Plan Arrangements

Thinking about funeral and End-of-life decision making especially making arrangements for how a loved one will be remembered can be extremely emotional and challenging. But by initiating a conversation, talking to parents sooner rather than later everyone involved will benefit when the time comes. Less than 20% of the British population pre plan their funeral and planning at the time of loss can be extremely difficult as emotions are running at their highest and rash decisions or arguments may happen. Talking to parents and getting them to open up and tell you their desires to enable planning and make funeral arrangements personal to them can be extremely scary. Here’s how you can encourage a meaningful conversation.

Breaking the ice

This is definitely where starting the discussion is at least half (if not more) of the battle. The sooner you have this conversation, the better, as the focus will be on a legacy rather than loss when your parents are younger and healthier. However, regardless of their age, what is most important is that you take the first step now.

There is no right way of broaching this subject as each family is unique in the way they handle sensitive discussions.

Many people recommend setting a time and starting with a statement that demonstrates that you care about your parents’ interests and the well-being of the family. For example, you may begin with “Mum and dad, I know this may be an uncomfortable topic, but would you be open to talking about your funeral service and some of the ways you wish to be remembered? When the time comes, I want to know that we are carrying out a ceremony that you want rather than stressing with one another over the details.”

Others recommend talking about your own funeral arrangements or pre-planning efforts as a way of breaking the ice, perhaps even inviting them to discuss your funeral plans.

Another method is to start informally, asking your parents about some of their favourite traditions and how your family will continue those traditions for generations to come before finding a natural transition to the memorial service.

Your parents may resist, saying “Don’t make a fuss. I don’t want a ceremony. Just bury me and be done with it.” It is best to gently remind them the purpose of the funeral service – that it serves as a time for the living to come together to celebrate a life lived as an essential part of the grieving process. Keeping this larger focus in mind will help guide both of you when deciding on the finer details of the ceremony.

Guiding the conversation

After you’ve taken the first step, what is it that you talk about? As previously mentioned, it may be best to start with discussions such as your parents’ favourite places to visit, favourite songs and favourite memories before transitioning to more difficult topics. These types of conversations will assist you in planning a personalised ceremony. You can also start with larger topics such as whether they would prefer to be buried or cremated before progressing to other aspects of their remembrance service. A free funeral planning form is included at the end of this blog.

Do your research

For most, planning a funeral is not a one-day affair. Take your time, do your research and create a service that is best for your family, ensuring the ceremony is personalised and within your budget. Many Guaranteed funeral plans will allow personalising and fix the cost of the funeral at today’s price.

Pay careful attention to what your parent has to say, committing it to writing and verbalizing it back to them to communicate understanding. If there are certain topics they would rather not discuss now, ask if they would be comfortable talking about them later. Respect your parents’ decision to decline comment on certain topics as over-persistence may make them feel as though you have something other than their best interests in mind. Being prepared and timing can mitigate these kinds of negative reactions.

You never know, what feels like a daunting task may be rewarding for both parties in the end. Take this as your opportunity to have some authentic conversations with your loved one and let your parents know the legacy they have had in your life. Talking to parents can be very rewarding and take away a lot of stress.

As a starting point for discussions visit our plan in advance page

Help and advice for elderly parents click here