What You Should Really Be Talking to Your Friends and Family About

how to talk to your friends and family about death

We all like real talk. We’ll gossip about people we know. We’ll judge parenting choices. We’ll be sure to let you know what we think about Donald Trump. We’ll even talk about things that happen behind bedroom doors.

But, when it comes to financial real talk and divulging the details of our family’s planning habits? We’re not having any of that.

You know what people hate even more at dinner parties? Talking about death. No one wants to talk about the inevitable. We’d prefer to just ignore death even though the end is going to come for all of us. Just imagine you’re sitting at a dinner table with friends. You’re all enjoying a great meal out. The kids are home, so the conversation (and the wine) is flowing. There’s a lull in the conversation between gossip about the new baseball coach and talk of your kids.

So you ask, “Have you guys had ‘the talk’ with your parents?….You know about whether they have a will and what their last wishes are?” Cue everyone looking awkwardly around and your friend saying you’re bringing everyone down.

Or, maybe you’ve had to think about it, because someone you love died. It may have been a parent, a sibling, or a friend who you had never had ‘the talk’ with. Instead of grieving you spent weeks sorting through grandma’s plastic tote bag collection or trying to find a realtor for a house two thousand miles away.

Or, you may be like me and started thinking about death when you saw a close friend deal with death. When a friend recently lost a loved one much too soon, I learned how challenging it was to sort out the mess left behind. A tangle of legal issues, debts, and challenges came up. Even while coping with, grief my friend had a piece of advice: her plea was that anyone who doesn’t have their will in writing should get one now so the remaining family members can focus on their grief and not spend it fighting and stressing over the details and wishes left unknown.

Are You Prepared?

Even if you’ve thought it through, you still may not have put pen to paper nor had those necessary conversations with your loved ones. Let’s face it a will, life insurance, medical directives…these are all heavy things. Typically, these necessities live on your to-do list somewhere between vacuuming the car and cleaning the dust bunnies from under the fridge. And, I bet you’re more likely to tackle those bunnies.

If you do have everything in place you still might not have the nerve to talk about it with your loved ones or to let them know where they can find these important documents. However, these conversations are vital to have and don’t need to be taboo to discuss.

Talk To Your Spouse or Partner

Talking to your spouse or partner is the toughest conversation to have. No one wants to face leaving the person you love behind. We also don’t like to think about being the one that’s left behind.

What you need to cover:

  • What kind of medical treatment do you want? Do you want to be an organ donor?
  • Do we have the necessary life insurance to cover our debt and living expenses? Will our kids be able to attend college with this?
  • Speaking of our kids, who should be their guardians?
  • Where can I find a list of all your passwords and any non-joint accounts?
  • Do you keep any important documents locked away that I don’t know about?
  • Do you want to be cremated?
  • What kind of funeral or wake do you want? Do you have a vision of a somber affair or a lively celebration of your life?
  • Where do you keep all your offshore money? (kidding…..maybe)

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Talk To Your Friends

When I talk to my friends we can talk about anything. I do mean anything, but one thing we don’t often talk about is death. It’s just not an easy subject to bring up, but it’s important to talk to your friends so they know what you want, and you know what their wishes are, too. After all, our friends are our extended family, and they may be the necessary support system for your family.

What you need to cover:

  • Have you shared your wishes with your spouse?
  • Do you and your spouse have life insurance?
  • Have you talked to your parents about their wishes and where important documents are? How did they handle it?
  • Who did you choose to be the kids’ guardians?
  • Who is your ‘legacy contact’ for your social media accounts? Let’s be real, this is a great opening for everyone. Who is going to manage your Facebook page or what’s going to happen to your Pinterest boards? Be sure someone knows!

Talk To Your Parents

This is the tricky one.

They may have had ‘the talk’ with you about the birds and bees, but you bringing up ‘the talk’ about death is almost worse than listening to your mother discuss proper sexual terminology. Most of our parents by nature are more conservative and private about their wishes. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push to find out what they want.

What you need to cover:

  • Do you have a medical directive? This one is key as parents age and start to undergo surgeries and procedures.
  • Where do you keep a copy of your will?
  • Who is your executor?
  • Do you have life insurance? Where can I find the policy?
  • Do you have any debt we should know about?
  • What do you want your funeral or wake to be like?
  • Do you have a place you’d like to be buried or interred? (When I asked my parents I learned that they have ‘spots’ already chosen.)

Talking about death isn’t nearly as bad as we think it might be. In fact, it can be sort of fun to hear what your friends and loved ones last wishes are. Besides it’s something we’ll all face eventually, so you may as well be prepared for the inevitable. And, most importantly, once you have your plans and necessary documents in order, you can get back to living a fulfilled and fully prepared life.

Kelly is the founder and editor of Centsible Life, a site dedicated to helping women live well. Her aim is to show you how to focus on what truly matters to you, help you lead a healthier and more active life, and share financial advice to help you grow wealth. Find her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC 042017 and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas, 100139527.

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