Grief Lessened by Discussing Final Wishes

Field with clouds

By Danielle Burmeister

Marketing Communications Specialist at Homesteaders Life Company

A few months ago, I met a woman who had buried two husbands. The first died unexpectedly at a tragically young age, the second after a long, hard and well-fought battle with cancer. Kate bore the unmistakable signs of grief – strength and perseverance coupled with the quiet certainty that life is very, very precious.

As you might imagine, her first husband passed away without making any plans for his funeral arrangements. At his age, there was no reason to think he needed to talk with his wife about how he wanted to be remembered, where he wanted to be laid to rest or even where he kept their important documents and financial information. When he died, Kate was left with a mountain of decisions to make, a funeral to arrange and a life to stitch back together without any guidance from her departed spouse.

Talking about what matters most

Some months later, Kate began to Have the Talk of a Lifetime® with her children about her own final wishes – never wanting to leave them with the pain and uncertainty of burying a loved one without knowing exactly what she would have wanted.

By the time she met and married her second husband, talking about end-of-life plans and final wishes was a natural part of her family relationships. When he was diagnosed with cancer a few years later, they were able to focus their energy on treatment plans and recovery goals, knowing that if the worst should happen, she would know what to do.

When he passed away, Kate knew which church he wanted to use for his funeral, which pastor would officiate, which type of disposition he wanted and where he wanted his ashes scattered. She knew where he was born, his mother’s maiden name and his parents’ and grandparents’ birthplaces. She knew where he kept his life insurance policy and bank information and which funeral home he had used to make his final arrangements. She knew enough to be able to spend the days following his death focusing on family, not funeral arrangements.

Though no one is every truly prepared to cope with the loss of a loved one, Kate felt some relief from knowing exactly what her husband wanted.

Watch Kate’s story

When I sat down to interview Kate, I also spent some time talking with her son, who expressed his own relief that he would know what to do when his mother passed away. “It’s comforting to know those things, to know the values my family has always had and the values I bring to my own family,” Jim explained. “It makes me very relaxed to know what she wants.”

Watch the video below to hear more about how Kate has been able to share her stories and wishes with her son, and what that has meant to him.

Have the Talk of a Lifetime

Sharing stories with your loved ones is so important – especially when it comes to your end-of-life wishes and how you want to be remembered. If you haven’t yet, consider sitting down with your family to Have the Talk of a Lifetime. Not sure how to get started? Click here to download a free workbook to guide you through these important discussions.

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