In a perfect world we think a husband and wife will arrive at the decision to get their affairs in order and complete funeral plans in unison. But, with a little additional thought we can see that is a tall order. It isn’t unusual for one or the other of spouses to be ready to make plans for end of life before the other one is ready.
The reality is that even long-married couples have lived different lives. They have had different careers, some friends in common and some not, they have enjoyed different leisure activities and sometimes even have a different faith than their spouse. Sometimes one partner in a marriage feels compelled to prepare for end of life before the other is comfortable with the idea. It’s ok to plan for one. But how do you tell your husband or wife that you have put a plan in place for your final wishes?
First, choose the right time to break the news. Make sure you will not be rushed, that you will have enough time to explain what you did, and why you did it. Pick a time when you are both feeling calm. Be sure you are well-prepared. Most importantly take the time to choose your words carefully.
Second, put a frame around your news. Begin by sharing your “why.” Why was it important to you to have a funeral plan in place?
“Because I don’t want to leave a burden for either you or our children.”
“Because it is important to me that certain things happen.”
“Because I love you and the kids, and I want you to be able to work together toward a common goal.”
Whatever your reason, take the time before you begin the discussion to work through the reason you needed to take this step. Prepare your words. Be clear and concise. Let the love show.
Next, explain what you planned. Share what you included in your plan. Burial or cremation, service with or without the body present, faith-based components, the service selections you made. Explain the details. Did you pre-pay for your funeral? Where will the paperwork about your plan be kept? Who will be called when death occurs?
Don’t forget to explain how completing your plan made you feel. “I feel relieved. I feel so happy to have this done. Completing my plan was much easier than I expected.” Share how you feel.
Finally, invite questions. Be calm and patient. Give your spouse time to catch up. Explain what choices you made and why you made them. If your spouse is open to it, schedule a time with the funeral director or pre-arrangement specialist who helped you put your plan together. Give your spouse the opportunity to ask him or her questions about the plan you completed.