How do I talk about death if it makes loved ones uncomfortable?

How do I talk  about death if it makes loved ones uncomfortable?
4 Responses
  • Anonymous User
    July 17th, 2020

    Assume nothing and welcome everything. Let it be that there is no wrong answer. Don't give loaded questions. Instead make it clear, like, "I am actually interested in you and your experience." And open up to listen as if you have no idea what is going to be said, so without even saying it you're communicating, "I want to know you, just as you are." Start with where people are, like, "Maybe it's better if we don't even talk about it. Does it seem like that? Maybe a little bit of denial is actually kind of sweet." The most heartbreaking relationships I've ever had was when I presumed to go help, go change something.

  • Anonymous User
    August 19th, 2020

    Here are two ways to take some of the heaviness out of the conversation. First, "don't lead with death, lead with life and legacy". You may find that a conversation about what you want to leave behind and how you want to live out the rest of your days is far less upsetting to think about. Second, "make it a conversation, not a monologue". Make space for everyone to talk about what they want for themselves, and in that context, you talking about your wishes feels less heavy-handed. 

  • Joe'l Anthony
    Joe'l Anthony
    September 18th, 2020

    Photos and photo albums are a great icebreaker. Going through old photos can serve as a conversation starter when it comes to the end of life planning and overcoming the awkwardness and discomfort associated with conversations about death and dying with

    friends and family. It is my experience that when sharing memories in photos the conversation somehow always shifts to those who have passed on. You can use this opportunity to gently express your final wishes. Placing a copy of any preneed contracts or written

    desires in your photo albums is also a good idea. They will be able to easily accessible upon your death (photo albums are a go-to upon a death). 

  • Reena Lazar
    Reena Lazar
    September 18th, 2020

    Try these five steps:

    Step 1: Set your intention. Before you bring up the topic, it’s important to reflect on what you hope to get from your talk. Setting an intention for yourself and the conversation will make a big difference to how the conversation will go. Take a moment and think

    about the people you plan to talk with. What impact do you hope the conversations will have on you, on them and on your relationship?

    Step 2: Identify (and share) your concerns. It may seem strange to begin a conversation by talking about your concerns. In fact, stating your concerns before you start almost always reduces the tension for all parties. Try starting with something like, “There’s

    something I want to talk to you about, but I’m worried you will ___”

    Step 3: Create the context. One way is to begin these important conversations is by letting your person know what events in your life motivated you to want to think about your own mortality and/or do some end-of-life planning for you or for them. “When so-and-so

    died, It was very hard on me because … When such-and-such happened to me (or to x), It got me thinking about …” etc.

    Step 4: Explain your motivation. Sometimes the best way to start a conversation is to share why you want to have the conversation in the first place. It’s fair to say that people are motivated to talk about death and dying either because of the positive benefits

    that result from doing so, or the negative consequences of not doing so. What is motivating you?

    Step 5: Reflect on your conversation. After you have the conversation, no matter how well it went or challenging it was, take some time to reflect on how you feel, and acknowledge what went right, and what worked well.