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How to Plan End-of-Life Decisions with Your Spouse

How to Plan End of life Decisions with Your Spouse

Wedding. Children. Money.

Marriage naturally sparks conversations about virtually every milestone and facet of life’s journey. Yet one discussion is too often neglected: end-of-life planning.

Naturally, end-of-life issues can be very uncomfortable to talk about, but waiting until that moment comes and then figuring  it out is more challenging and stressful. You never know when you’ll need this information, so sit down with your spouse and Have the Talk of a Lifetime to begin planning for end-of-life decisions.

Of course, there are practical legal decisions to make in advance, i.e those related to living wills. However, other conversations also play an essential role in end-of-life planning. Start a conversation with your spouse by asking these questions:

How would each of us want to be memorialized and honored?

A funeral is a celebration of life, so you’ll want your memorial to reflect that. Sit down with your partner and discuss how you want loved ones to celebrate your life.

  • Do you want guests to wear your favorite color?
  • Would you like a favorite poem or religious verse to be read during the service?
  • Do you want guests to receive a keepsake, such as a copy of your best recipe or a tree seedling?
  • Would you like your spouse to uphold a funeral tradition celebrated by your family?

You or your spouse may also want life celebration choices to reflect your commitments and passions as well. If either of you volunteer with or support local charities, perhaps consider asking loved ones to send donations to those charities in your honor. This conversation is also the perfect time to let your partner know that maybe you want a green funeral, which might include anything from serving organic food at the funeral luncheon to a burial in a biodegradable casket. Or maybe your spouse will express their wish to be buried in a cemetery plot that’s been in their family for generations.

Hashing out these decisions can be hard, but the conversations builds another layer of emotional intimacy with your spouse. Learning how your partner wants to be celebrated after their death can help you grow closer to each other emotionally. Plus, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing that when your loved one is gone, you’ll be remembering them in the way they want to be celebrated.

Don’t feel you need to tackle a discussion this significant in one sitting. Whether you plan everything out over an afternoon or through a series of late night chats, you’ll both gain peace of mind knowing the decisions you make will provide some sense of healing and comfort after death.

How will our family pay for funeral costs?

It can be hard to address financial issues when talking about how you want loved ones to celebrate your life. Yet, the expense factor will have a significant impact on the family in the period immediately following death.

A discussion about funeral costs now can give the surviving spouse assurance that they have one less thing to worry about in those difficult days following their loss. The conversation can also help you shape your family’s priorities.  Whether you choose to pre plan services or start a dedicated savings account to cover costs, take action now to plan for expenses and establish priorities that can guide other decisions about family resources.

Don’t wait to have the conversation with your spouse.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime to establish how you and your spouse would like to be celebrated after death. This conversation will add another layer of emotional intimacy to your relationship and guide family priorities to provide comfort during one of life’s toughest transitions.

Linda Darby
Linda Darby has played an integral role with Have the Talk of A Lifetime since the program began in 2012. She has worked in memorialization since graduating from Illinois State University in 1984. Linda has long been advocating for funeral professionals to lead in helping families have important talks and share stories and is passionate about Have the Talk of A Lifetime.

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