How to talk to family about my funeral plans

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Planning your own funeral can be daunting, but the really tough part is telling those closest to you about your plans. 

Even if you’ve only started thinking about your funeral, it’s never too early to have that conversation with the people you care about – to let them know why it’s important to you to make plans.

 It’s thoughtful and practical. You might also want to get them involved. Our suggestions on how you can bring up the subject should make it easier.

Who is this article for?

  • Anyone planning for their death
  • Anyone who is thinking about or who has finalised their funeral plans
  • Anyone who wants to personalise their funeral and have their wishes carried out
  • Anyone who would like their loved ones to help them plan their funeral

Reading time:

 3 mins


Thinking about my mortality

Most people try to avoid thinking about death, but there are certain situations that, to borrow a phrase from the writer Samuel Johnson, focus the mind wonderfully.

For some, it might be the loss of a loved one or the occasion of their funeral. For others, it could be the onset of a serious or terminal illness. Reaching a landmark age can also trigger a sense that there is more time behind you than ahead of you (60 may be the new 40, but you may have packed 60 years of living into it!). Whatever the cause, if this is you, it’s time to take action.

Take a deep breath

It’s a sobering moment when you first accept that you’re going to leave life’s party at some point. But once you can come to terms with your own mortality, you can start to put your affairs in order. Although funerals aren’t cheap, setting money aside to pay for it with an insurance policy or a prepaid funeral plan can make financial sense and gives you the opportunity to choose every aspect of your funeral. The tricky part comes when you want to share your funeral wishes with other people.

Finding the right time to share my funeral planning arrangements

Any one of the key life events we mentioned before could provide the inspiration for a calm and measured discussion about your funeral plans.
Television programmes can also act as conversation openers – especially soap operas or real-life dramas.
Alternatively, you could ask people to pop over at a set time because there’s something important you want to talk about with them. We suggest you start small, along the lines of, “I’ve been thinking about my funeral.”
A casual chat around the kitchen table, with tea and biscuits at hand, can help dispel some of the tension when you start talking about your funeral.
Ideally, familiar surroundings are better than a public place for this sort of conversation, unless you find yourself in a hospital or in a care home. 

Who should I talk to about my funeral planning?

It may feel more comfortable to sound out one person first so that you can gauge their reaction before you try a wider audience. That could be your spouse, partner, son or daughter, sibling or best friend. Pick someone with whom you are used to sharing confidences so that there is already trust there. You may be tempted to start with someone from outside your intimate circle, but it’s those closest to you who are likely to be affected by your plans.

Should I involve family or friends in my funeral planning?

It may feel more comfortable to sound out one person first so that you can gauge their reaction before you try a wider audience. That could be your spouse, partner, son or daughter, sibling or best friend. Pick someone with whom you are used to sharing confidences so that there is already trust there. You may be tempted to start with someone from outside your intimate circle, but it’s those closest to you who are likely to be affected by your plans.

Meeting resistance when talking about my funeral?

Don’t be surprised if other people change the subject or flat out refuse to discuss the matter. At least you’ll have broken the ice and the next time you return to the subject of your funeral you can gradually introduce some details, perhaps starting with why it’s important for you to talk about this now.
It’s okay for people to get upset or to try and make a joke about it to deflect from the seriousness of the topic. You might even want to make a light-hearted remark yourself to get the ball rolling. “Have you seen the price of funerals? It’s a wonder people can afford to die!”
Or you can explain that you want to clear the air now to avoid family arguments in the future and set everybody straight about what you want to happen when you die. You can mention a prepaid funeral plan or life insurance policy if you have one, and if not, you can talk about how you plan to leave funds to pay for your funeral. No confusion and once it’s all settled there’s no need to discuss it again. 

The important information they need to know about your funeral planning

Tell them why you want to raise the subject now and how important it is to you that they understand your funeral wishes. Discussing the details now will help them when the time comes. They are far more likely to listen when they realise that it’s something you care deeply about.
If you have no particular preferences regarding the details of your funeral, let them know so that they can make those decisions whenever they feel ready or wait until the time comes. Otherwise, have your Funeral Wishes Planner to hand. If it’s completed, talk them through the details. If the planner is still blank, go through it together or outline the basic details of what you’d like and give them permission to decide on the rest.
Make sure they understand your financial position (whether you have a prepaid funeral plan, life insurance or any savings put by), and where you will keep the relevant paperwork, including a copy of your Funeral Wishes.

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About the Author

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Sophie can usually be found reading a book. Writing a novel has always been on her bucket list. When not absorbed in the latest page-turner, Sophie likes to explore and gain a deeper understanding of peoples' attitudes towards end-of-life planning and how it impacts their lives. She hopes that in some small way her writing around these topics can make a positive difference to her readers.


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