Having “the talk”

Several of my friends who are also caregivers for their elderly parents to one degree or another, kept telling me that I needed to have “the talk” with my parents. “The talk” was a discussion with Dad and Mom about end-of-life and funeral planning issues. Ideally, this makes perfect sense, but I can’t even begin to tell you how much I dreaded this, as well as not having a clue on how to start a seemingly very delicate conversation. It felt painful and frightening as well as disrespectful – as if anticipating something might happen soon.

One friend suggested a “matter-of-fact” approach, as she is that kind of person. Another had the discussion in the hospital with an extremely ill parent. A third suggested saying I had read something on the internet talking about end of life planning … Point blank, contrived or in extremis, none of these felt comfortable. I wasn’t sure if it was my fears, fears about my parent’s fears or some combination that was holding me back.

Interestingly (and much to my relief), they brought it up themselves one afternoon recently. Their wishes were simple and touchingly sweet.

However, as this is a topic of much discussion, what is the best way to approach this experience? Not everyone is lucky enough to have their parents initiate the conversation. What didn’t work? There are many of us out there who could benefit by your experience.

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