The Benefit of Having, “The Talk”
By Mike Walden
Advanced Planning Consultant
Locke Funeral Home
1519 West Fourth Street
Waterloo, IA 50702My family members have said it. Many people who have come in to plan and preplan funeral arrangements have said it. I am willing to bet you have family members who have said it. You may have said it yourself. “Just cremate me and throw my ashes to the wind,” or “Just throw me in the ground and be done with it.” It is a way of saying, “don’t mourn for me. Just move on with life.” I believe those who make these types of comments honestly think they are helping their loved ones. They don’t want anyone to worry about them, when their time comes. They are attempting to minimalize things, in order to protect their surviving family and friends from the pain and suffering. It is a natural instinct to protect others from this type of agony. What are they really saying to us? Does it really help the family? What if you followed their instructions? It is telling us two things. One, I am trying to protect you. Two, it is saying, I don’t want to talk about it. This type of commentary protects them from it, but it leaves a burden for the loved ones. It does the exact opposite of what is intended. It does not help the family. There are no instructions to follow. You have not been told what to do, except for maybe the final disposition. Having “The Talk,” can be as easy or as complicated as you chose to make it. It can simply be looking through photo albums and remembering the good times. It can be talking about services previously held for other family members and friends. This includes the good and the bad, what to do and what not to do. It does not need to be a formal meeting. It can be a formal meeting where you express your wishes. You can do it with family or close friends. You could have this meeting with a pre-need professional at your funeral home of choice. The key is to have the discussion. Leave your family with a sense of direction. Your survivors want to properly honor you. They want to celebrate your life. Give them the tools to make this happen. The funeral, memorial, or celebration of life is about the deceased, but it is for the family and friends. Gathering together of family and friends to share stories is the primary value of any service. When we meet and talk, we laugh, smile and remember. We remember the long forgotten stories, the funny stories, and even the sad stories. It allows those who gather the opportunity to begin to cope. It is the point where they begin to move on with life. Isn’t this what we really want for them? We have all heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Do we want to set up our loved ones to fail? I think not. We want them to move forward and succeed with minimal pain. Having “The Talk,” may be painful in the short term, but it allows for less pain in the long term.