Talking is important. Our plans and wishes are more likely to be carried out if we talk with people close to us. If we don’t communicate with those people close to us, wills may be impossible to find and plans and wishes about care, funerals and organ donation may never be known. Talking with loved ones and friends also means that we can share our thoughts and feelings about the future together.
Talking to Loved Ones ▾
Death is not an easy thing to discuss but peace of mind, quality of care and living well depend on us being able to talk about it openly and sensitively throughout our life with those close to us.
Our practical tips may help you talk about death and dying with those people close to you.
Practical Tips ▾
Recognise that we are different
Some people are comfortable talking about death and end of life plans whilst others are less so. The starting point for a conversation will be different from one person to another. Some people find that talking about writing a will is a little easier than talking about how we would like to be cared for.
Get yourself in the right frame of mind
Choose the right place and the right time. It is not easy to talk when we’re stressed or distracted with something else. Think about what you want to talk about and ideally, what you would like to happen as a result of your conversation. Perhaps learn more about end of life issues and the options that are available.
Think about the best way to raise the subject
Starting a conversation may be easier than you think. Can you link what you want to say to a friend’s experience, something on TV, a news story or a leaflet that you have picked up? For example, “’such a thing’ made me think about what would happen to us if the unexpected happens.”
For more information, download our Dying To Talk: Takeaway Conversation Menu
Give and take
Death is not an easy to talk about. If your family member or friend says that they do not want to talk or seem reluctant to do so, it’s probably best to stop right there. However, if is this happens, a seed may have already been planted. Perhaps you could discuss why talking about death is difficult for the both of you. Or perhaps you can agree a time and place to talk at a later stage.
Be honest about your feelings
If you feel unsure about how to raise the subject or how death makes you feel, say so. Most people respond to honesty. It helps to put the foundations in place for having difficult conversations.
Listen to what the other person is saying
Listening rather than always steering the conversation is important. When somebody else is talking, listen to what they are saying, do not interrupt or talk over them or finish their sentences for them. This can be difficult but thinking about this in advance can make it easier.
It is not easy to talk about death. However, by emphasizing the benefits about talking about plans and wishes throughout the life course can help ourselves and those close to us to live well, age well, grieve well and die well.