Life Legacies and Wishes

by Lois Etienne on June 15, 2011

in Finances,Holidays,Legal

How do you start the conversation with your dad about subjects he considers private or sensitive? Discussing end-of-life issues with your parents can be very uncomfortable, for both of you. Would a pre-planning checklist be helpful? Maybe you could put the checklist together and make copies for everyone in your family so when you give your dad his copy, he won’t feel singled out.

 Here are five tips to help you broach those sensitive subjects:

1.Keep it light.
Have this talk at a time that is not serious. Try to make it a fun experience; reserve a private dining room in a restaurant or videotape it, film a family movie.

2.Immediate family only.
Limiting this type of meeting to immediate family members is often more efficient. The group is smaller; your parent will likely be delighted to spend time with just his or her children and be more open to the discussion.

3.Don’t make it an intervention.
Think about how you would like to be approached with such matters. Maybe start by sharing a story of another family in a similar situation or produce your pre-planning checklist and talk about how you are “getting your affairs in order.”

4.Make good use of a holiday gathering.
This may be when all family members are present and, therefore, a good opportunity to devote some of the time to discussing these details. Perhaps the oldest sibling could initiate the conversation, but no sibling should be left out.

5.Limit initial expectations.
Even though a talk about end-of life issues may have been on your mind for a while, it might not be top-of-mind for your parent. Allow your parent to process the proposals and maintain as much dignity and independence as possible. It might be easier than you imagine.

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