5 Tips for talking to family about end of life wishes during the holidays

The holidays are coming and what an opportunity you will have to talk to family and friends about your end of life wishes. Okay, you might think people will be horrified or shrink away from this conversation. Could be! You will never know until you try. I have 5 tips for talking with loved ones about this difficult subject.

1.  Think of it as an empowering and loving conversation instead of a difficult, challenging and morbid one.

2.  Make it really personal for you. For example: “After watching my mother/father/sibling, friend go through their end of life, I have some thoughts I wanted to share with you. Can we make time to talk?”

3. Use a book or film that inspired or impacted you to start the conversation – such as “Meet Joe Black”, “Million Dollar Baby” or “One True Thing”. Books: “Being Mortal”, “Tuesday’s with Morrie”, etc. When I read….., I started thinking about what I wanted and did not want.

4. If the person or persons will be your executor, power of attorney or trustee, ask them if you could inform them of what they will need to know when they take on this role. It will save time and money later if you do this now.

5. Keep the conversation light and informative. For a certain family, jokes might be good. For others, stories are better. Sharing from the heart with joy, love and appreciation always helps. Also, knowing when to keep going and when to change the subject.

I recently heard about a mother who broached this subject with her children a few years ago only to have the children say, “No, we can’t even go there with you mom”. Recently, she was able to speak to them and had a lively and informative discussion. They are now ready to talk. Patience and perseverance is key!