Have you ever thought about how you want to be remembered? Taking the time to consider your answer slowly surfaces what truly matters to you:
- It shows your values and what you stand for.
- It shows how you want to act in your daily life.
- It keeps you in the present moment.
If you’ve never put much thought into it, you’re not alone.
Most people struggle to discuss death, as it forces us to confront our own mortality and consider the future of those we leave behind. And while the majority agree it’s important to have end-of-life planning documents in place before passing, only 40% of people have actually taken action.
In her TED Talk—an organization that offers free online presentations focused on “ideas worth spreading”—change professional Michelle Knox challenges each of us to flip the script when it comes to death and actually have conversations with our loved ones—before it’s too late.
Below, we dive deeper into the importance of discussing death while you’re still healthy.
It Allows You to Reflect on Your Core Values
What core values do you live your life by?
The list goes on—but whatever they may be, your passing should be no different.
Think of it in the lens of your family. If you believe family is of fundamental importance, then you would do everything in your power to protect them, right? The same rings true with end-of-life planning.
By reflecting on your core values, you can plan ahead to give you and your loved ones peace of mind. Knox suggests that discussing topics like resuscitation and organ donation can help you experience your final moments in a way that aligns with your wishes.
This can be helpful to your surviving loved one’s healing process, as it reassures both you and them that every final decision was what you wanted—even after your passing. No “what ifs” or “what would they have wanted?”
It Allows You to Make Informed Decisions
Most people like to feel in control over decisions that affect their lives. But unless wishes are in writing, it can be difficult for surviving family members to decide exactly how you envision your final days, along with your preferred disposition method and final arrangements.
Knox notes discussing death while you’re still healthy allows you and your family to make informed decisions before grief or exhaustion set in.
By taking ownership, you can specify whether you’d like a formal gathering or a celebration of life. You can explain your desire for personalization, including flower arrangements, videos tributes and more.
This helps your family carry out final wishes with a funeral home or crematory, exactly how you documented. As Knox puts it:
“I believe if we discuss death as part of day-to-day living, we give ourselves the opportunity to reflect on our core values, share them with our loved ones, and then our survivors can make informed decisions without fear or regret of having failed to honor our legacy.”
It Allows You to Consider How You Make People Feel
As Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Asking yourself how you’d like to be remembered is another way of questioning how you want to make people feel—and your personality is one way to captivate an audience.
Everyone’s personality is entirely unique to them. As you reflect on our own personality, are you someone who makes others laugh and tells great stories? Or maybe you make others feel comfortable and offer them sound advice.
No matter what it may be, you’re in control of your narrative. So if you want to be remembered for your joyful outlook on life, your wise advice, or your generous spirit, understand each of those qualities are going to have an effect on how those around you feel.
It Allows You to Have Open Conversations
Having discussions before a death is near provides individuals with the tools to control their healthcare decisions at a point in time when they can fully participate in the conversation. This prevents you and your family from having to make rushed decisions when emotions are high.
Oftentimes families wait until it’s too late and their loved one becomes ill. This makes it difficult to bring up the topic of their funeral without one thinking their family is trying to hasten their passing.
Having open conversations about death allows surviving family members and friends to experience a healthy bereavement.
Your loved ones can feel at peace knowing everything was handled how you would have wanted. This gives them the necessary time to grieve, say goodbye and feel unburdened by the details of casket prices or funeral plots.
“If we talk about death more, we will become comfortable with the emotions we experience around grief.”
Preplanning Allows You to Leave Your Legacy, Your Way
Preplanning not only helps your family members but gives you the option to choose exactly what you want. We want you to be confident in your planning, so we’ve included all the important factors you’ll need to consider in our Online Final Wishes tool.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
Funeral director, embalmer and licensed insurance agent helping families make wise decisions about preplanning for nearly 30 years. Photography and crafting are just some of Julie’s creative outlets. Graciously serving Busch families since 1999.