Why Don’t We Talk about Death?
Why don't we talk about death? First of all, it’s going to happen to each and every one of us. Yet, why does initiating a conversation about planning ahead for death always seem to make people run in the other direction?
What is it that makes us so fearful? Do you think that having conversations about end-of-life plans will in fact “jinx” you?
Why talking about death and planning ahead is beneficial:
- We are less prepared to tackle end-of-life decisions during a crisis (when incapacity occurs or when a loved one dies).
- The lack of advance planning often divides family members when making difficult decisions.
- The emotions of grief and vulnerability tend to increase all kinds of costs – including unplanned funeral expenses.
- It’s better to be proactive and get ready than to be reactive with little or no guidance.
- We are living longer and the increase Alzheimer’s presents a greater, more urgent, need to plan ahead.
Having counsel from both a Financial Advisor and an Estate Attorney is a good idea.
Financial Advisors engage in a wide range of conversations with their clients when strategic financial planning is done during their lifetimes. If your financial advisor is a fiduciary, the conversations should also include your individual life goals, family legacies, and the stewardship of your assets before and after death occurs.
Estate attorneys help adults plan ahead by writing legal documents, such as a will, to dictate what will happen to your money and real estate, minor children, and other assets in the event of incapacity or death. Estate planning also includes getting beneficiary designations in order, executing a durable power of attorney, and a health care power of attorney for if you become incapacitated and can’t speak for yourself.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your spouse, partner, aging parents and your adult children while you have opportunities to do so.
Questions that might help jump-start those conversations:
- What music would you like at your funeral or memorial service?
- What interesting things do you want included in your obituary?
- Does anyone know all of your passwords or where to find them?
- If someone wants to make a donation in your memory, where would you like that donation to go?
- Who should deliver the eulogy at your service?
- What do you want your family to know that you haven’t yet communicated?
- What do you want to have happen to your dog after your death?
- What do you want done with your belongings?
“It always seems too early until it’s too late” is the theme for National Healthcare Decisions Day, held annually on April 16. NHDD.org is an organization whose mission it is to help you understand the value of advance healthcare planning encouraging every adult to make an advance care plan for the sake of their loved ones.
So why is it important to talk about death?
Because any information given or received is better than no information at all and because “what is in your head is gone when you’re dead”. You might even overcome your fears so that talking about death isn’t scary.