Someone you love is aging, or maybe, facing a potentially terminal illness. You know it’s time for them to think about end of life planning but you may not know how to broach this delicate topic.
To get the ball rolling, simply acknowledge to yourself that it can be a difficult or uncomfortable conversation. Then give yourself time to consider how you want to bring it up with your loved one.
Ideally, considering end of life matters would be something we regularly spoke about and got comfortable with before the end of life was near, but that’s not generally the case in our culture.
You can change that going forward, and I’ll share an article next week with guidance for how to make end of life discussions a regular part of your family conversations.
But, if you haven’t already begun incorporating end of life discussions into the culture of your family, it could be awkward at first. Especially if your family member is ill.
First, create a safe space for the conversation. Prepare your loved one in advance that you would like to speak about something that could be difficult, but also will provide peace of mind that his or her wishes will be known and honored.
Maybe the first meeting would be with just you and your loved one and be more generally exploratory with an intention to schedule more specifically focused future meetings with other family members included, based on the desires of your loved one.
During this first meeting, begin by acknowledging any discomfort and your desire to create a supportive field based on clarity and understanding. If you find yourself speaking more than your loved one, slow down and begin asking more questions to open a space for listening and clarity.
Consider that this conversation can happen over more than one session and does not have to take place all at once.
Educate yourself about what will happen when your loved one becomes unable to handle his or her financial affairs, make medical decisions for him or herself, and what will happen to their assets and personal effects when they die.
Understand what your role will be if your loved one doesn’t take any action, and how that will impact you and other family members.
Be prepared to share that with your loved one so he or she can decide if the current plan, or if there is no plan, the state’s default plan, is sufficient to meet his or her wishes. If not, action can be taken if an alternative plan is desired.
Contact us or another trusted advisor if you need help. As difficult as these conversations can be, things will be far more difficult if nothing is put in place before it is too late.
Dedicated to your family’s health, wealth, and happiness,