• Glynis Woodhead

The most difficult conversation of all ...


It is, without doubt, the conversation no-one wants to have, and yet it’s the one conversation that’s ultimately going to be inevitable if we want to take pressure off our loved ones at the most difficult time in their lives: the dreaded funeral arrangements.

Whilst more and more people opt for pre-paid funerals, or ensure there is money put in a special fund to take care of the expenses, few will sit down with their families and actually talk about what they would like to happen to them immediately after their death.

A few hints dropped in odd conversations about either burial or cremation will most likely linger with family members but, at a time when they’re dealing with raw grief, the last thing they may want to do is begin making decisions or think about the intricate details of a farewell ceremony.

It is, without any doubt whatsoever, the one thing we can all be assured will happen to us, so isn’t it about time we gave it more than a passing thought now and then? We spend more time choosing what we want for dinner each night than in discussing with our families what we would like to happen to our mortal remains. That’s not to say we don’t think about it: a great many people spend a lot of time considering what they might like, but they don’t communicate it. It’s too difficult, and usually far too emotionally challenging, to have a rational discussion.

For many elderly people in particular, or those with a terminal illness, thoughts of their farewell ceremony can be uppermost in their minds but when they try to discuss their wishes with immediate family, the response is usually to pass it off with a comment about dealing with things further down the line. So if someone you love wants to discuss their arrangements, don’t brush it off – of course it’s painful for you to listen to, but it’s equally as painful for them: the main is, though, it’s important to them.

And if you’re reading this and you know your loved ones aren’t listening to your wishes, then write your decisions down somewhere, and put them safe – with your funeral director, or your solicitor, or even with a trusted friend. At least that way, your requests will be available to your family when you no longer are.

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