We lost a most wonderful mother in the last few weeks. We knew we didn’t have much time to be with her anymore. She had dementia and it was too late to ask what her wishes were for her funeral. Each family member remembered her saying she wanted a cremation, simple ceremony, and a resting place at Taunton Cemetery. We also thought it would be nice if she was close to my mum and dad’s grave as they were great friends in life.

Once she had passed, we began discussing music, hymns, prayers etc. We had to make best guesses to plan the ceremony. We think we have done a good job, and it will be perfect for her and her family. However, we wished we had discussed these things with her at a time when she was well and able to tell us exactly what she wanted.

Having conversations about funeral choices with loved ones can be a challenging and sensitive topic. However, these discussions are essential for ensuring that everyone's wishes are respected and that the end-of-life process reflects their values and preferences. While it may seem daunting, approaching this conversation with care and empathy can lead to a better understanding and a sense of comfort for both parties involved.

Begin the conversation in a quiet and comfortable setting where everyone feels at ease. It's crucial to pick a time when everyone is relaxed and not rushed, allowing for a thoughtful and unhurried discussion. Avoid bringing up the topic during times of stress or when emotions are already high.

Make the conversation more approachable by sharing your own thoughts and preferences about funeral arrangements. This can help create an atmosphere of openness and vulnerability, making it easier for your loved ones to express their own thoughts.

Understand that individuals may have varying beliefs, cultural backgrounds, and personal preferences. Be open-minded and respectful of their choices, even if they differ from your own. This conversation is about them.

Once the conversation has taken place, document the discussed preferences and keep them in a safe and accessible place. Share this information with other family members or close friends who may need to be aware of these choices in the future.

Approaching end-of-life discussions with loved ones requires compassion, empathy, and a commitment to understanding and respecting each other's perspectives. While it may be a challenging conversation to have, it ultimately serves to honour and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual's life.

It probably won’t surprise you to know that I have written my own funeral wishes and emailed them to my family to open when the time is right. It makes me feel so happy that they won’t have to guess what I would want. I’ve picked my hymns and prayers; I’ve written messages to my loved ones. I have asked for people to wear bright colours and not be afraid to laugh and smile as they remember me.  

See you again in two weeks! Until then – Stay Safe and Be Kind.