The Importance of an End-of-Life Conversation with Your Loved One

By: Tom Gallagher
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Many people avoid talking about end-of-life wishes as it makes them feel uncomfortable. Whether you need to discuss your own plans or clarify the wishes of a loved one, having an end-of-life conversation is necessary to avoid difficulties and confusion later on and to ensure your loved one is taken care of in a manner he or she would like.

Items to Discuss

Everyone has his or her own unique beliefs about death and how they wish to live out their last days and be remembered. There are many practical matters to discuss including:

  • Legal and financial. Does your loved one have a will? Does it need to be updated? Is there someone he/she would like to assign an executor? Has estate planning begun yet?
  • Health. If health fails, where would your loved one like to live out his or her last days — in the hospital, or at home? Is there someone they would like to assign as a healthcare power of attorney (someone who makes decisions about his/her care if they are no longer able to)? Are there any medical treatments that he/she wants to avoid?
  • Beliefs. Are there certain religious or spiritual beliefs your loved one has about death? For example, many cultures and religions do not believe in cremation. Are there religious or spiritual rituals he/she would like available in hospital?
  • Funeral. Would your loved one like to be buried or cremated? Where would he/she like to be buried? Would he/she like a religious funeral service?

Tips on How to Approach the Topic

Since discussing end-of-life and death is a sensitive topic, ensure you select an appropriate time, one where you are not rushed and when you are both calm. You could try the following suggestions:

“I know this is difficult to talk about, but I think it’s important we think about how you would like to be taken care of if you get very sick.”

“I care a lot about you and want you to have the best possible care in case you get sick. Is it okay if we talk about this now?”

What is Pre-Planning or Pre-arranging?


Many funeral homes have pre-planning or pre-arrangement options. This allows you to plan ahead and express how you’d like your final arrangements to be conducted. During pre-planning, you can decide on the type of burial you’d like (burial/cremation), type of casket or urn, type of music to be played, type of ceremony and any specific requests such as special readings or pallbearers you’d like. You may even pre-pay for all or a portion of your funeral arrangements.

Knowing your loved one’s end-of-life wishes and expressing your own wishes provides peace of mind and comfort.

Thomas Gallagher Funeral Home is proud to serve Stamford, CT. We welcome families of all faiths. For more information, call us at (203) 359-9999 or contact us anytime.

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