9 tips on how to talk to parents about their funeral
Coffin — Death Registration Services in Manunda, QLD

9 tips on how to talk to parents about their funeral

It’s difficult to discuss funeral arrangements with loved ones when someone dies unexpectedly, but in these cases there’s no choice and decisions must be made often quickly. However, if you have parents the decision to discuss their funeral while they are present with you can be extremely worthwhile, so everyone is comfortable with the decisions when the time comes.

There are many factors to consider so it is far better to plan the funeral ahead of time and have your parents’ wishes documented so you can carry out their wishes with the knowledge it’s what they would have wanted.

It’s not an easy discussion to have so here are some tips to ease the process.

Be respectful

One if the key issues when talking about this subject is understanding there may be a generation gap and your views may be very different to your parents. Your parents may be more religious or traditional and may have grown up in a different culture or country, so your views may not be similar. Be mindful that it’s not your plans, it’s theirs, and your job is to help them carry out their final wishes.

Come prepared

Make a list of questionsahead of time so you can prompt them if they don’t want to talk about the topic. The more options you have for them to bring to the conversation the more they will be open to discussing some options. Be ready not to have all the answers. If they ask something that you’re not sure of, tell them you are willing to look into it for them rather than saying something negative straight away. Funeral homes are very open to unique requests and will be able to tell you if a specific request is achievable.

Choose who will be at this discussion

This may be a difficult and emotional discussion and it may not be comfortable for them if too many people are present in the conversation. You may only want to have a one-on-one with them or with your siblings to start with for at least the first conversation. After you’ve agreed on most of the points, if they agree to share the information with other family and friends you can involve others in a separate discussion.

Don’t ambush or surprise them

This might seem obvious, but this is a very delicate conversation and it’s not a good idea to turn up out of the blue and start talking about their death. It’s a better idea to plant the idea gently before-hand that this discussion will take place, so they know in advance and can also be prepared for what they want to talk about.

Put it in context

People like to relate to other scenarios and events and it can be a good idea to relate some of your ideas to when you’ve been to other family or friends’ funerals in the past. You can discuss some ideas that went well from other people’s past experiences of how they planned a funeral. Very much like when people plan weddings; they gather inspiration from other people’s weddings but keep it original to the person with some personal touches.

Listen and be patient

Sometimes with difficult conversations and especially when some big decisions need to be made, it’s easy to think you’re listening when really you may not be. You want to be the one doing the least talking. If you’re talking more than them, you’re not going to get as much information out of them and get their true wishes. Again, it’s your parent’s funeral, and it should be their wishes, without too much influence. If you don’t get enough information out of the first meeting, it’s ok, don’t push them, and set up another time to meet again to discuss all the other issues. For some people, the thought of making their own funeral plans can be overwhelming and they may want some time to think matters through.

Don’t let money be a factor of avoidance

Discussions will need to be made about financing the funeral. But money doesn’t need to be an excuse for them not to participate in discussions. Funerals are expensive and most people know this, so they may be avoiding the subject because they don’t have any money to pay for costs. The truth is that by planning ahead and knowing the wishes of your parents you can save a lot of money and headache. 

Keep up the conversation

Most things will not be sorted out during the first talk. Older people especially, have a tendency to push things aside and don’t want to worry their family with unnecessary details. Some would rather not put their loved ones under any emotional strain and may see talking about funeral plans as a bother to the family. Allow them to see that it’s not a chore but rather an honour to be the ones who can help them carry out their wishes.

End on a positive note

No matter how the conversation goes, try not to get into any disagreement. Don’t let time pressures be the reason to make hasty decisions and if the first meeting doesn’t go as planned, settle the meeting with something positive or light-hearted, and gently request another time that suits better for more discussions. Most people don’t cooperate or can become frustrated if they feel like a discussion is negative or they are being backed into a corner without a choice.

At Cairns Funeral Directors, we can assist you with all your funeral needs and are happy to assist in giving families as much information as possible.

Contact us or stop by our Cairns location to discuss your funeral plans today.