How to Start the Advance Planning Conversation with Your Loved Ones

If you’ve made your own funeral and cemetery arrangements in advance, you know the relief you’ll provide your loved ones in the future. But how can you inform them of your plans without upsetting them by contemplating your death? Or, how can you let a loved one know that you’d like them to consider their own funeral and cemetery arrangements and share their plans with you?

These conversations might seem tough to have, but they don’t need to be. Dignity Memorial providers agree that what’s most important is that you have the conversation, not how you have it.

There are many different ways to begin the planning ahead conversation. You know your family and how your loved ones might best respond to the topic. For some families, it might be a casual conversation over dinner or another family gathering. For other families, a formal meeting might be better suited.

Regardless of your approach, funeral professionals agree that the conversation is much easier to have when death is not imminent. Bringing up the subject with loved ones earlier in life when they are younger, and most likely healthier, makes the topic easier to discuss and keeps the focus on the celebration of life rather than an impending loss.

Here are some tips for starting the advance planning conversation from the experts with the Dignity Memorial network:

  • Set a time to have the conversation. Schedule it as an appointment with your loved ones, whether you want to share your plans with them or ask them to make their plans to share with you.
  • Tell your parent or loved one that you want to ensure their final arrangements are done according to their wishes, and you need their help to make that happen.
  • Use the Personal Planning Guide offered by Dignity Memorial providers. If you are planning your own arrangements, complete the guide and present it to your loved ones. If you are encouraging others to plan, present the guide to them and work through it together. Click here to request your copy.
  • Let the free, online planning tool Dignity Planning™ communicate your arrangements for you. When you use Dignity Planning to create, store and share your funeral plans, you can designate friends or family members to receive packets outlining your selections and the benefits of planning ahead.
  • Ease into the conversation. Questions such as “Have you ever thought about where you would like to be buried?” or “What type of funeral would you like to have?” may open the discussion to more details about your loved one’s wishes.
  • Take advantage of funeral-related opportunities. Attending the funeral of a friend, family member or colleague or watching a movie or television show with funeral scenes may naturally prompt the discussion with your own loved ones. Talk about what you liked or didn’t like about the services you saw or attended.
  • Tell your children or loved ones that because you care for them so much, you don’t want to burden them with difficult decisions when you’re gone. Tell them you’ve made your own final arrangements, and give them a written record of what they are.
  • Make your funeral and cemetery plans with a Dignity Memorial provider, wrap a copy of your contract and wishes in a gift box, and present it to your children.
  • Make it a family affair. Schedule an appointment with your Dignity Memorial funeral home and cemetery and invite your children along to participate in the selection of services, funeral merchandise and cemetery property.

Whether you’re sharing plans for your own final arrangements with loved ones, or encouraging loved ones to make and share their plans with you, the conversation about planning ahead is an important one that every family should have. While no one wants to think about their death or the death of a loved one any sooner than they must, having the conversation in advance alleviates the need for potentially more unpleasant or difficult conversations in the future.

Dignity Memorial®
Personal Planning Guide

Record your choices for your final arrangements and essential estate and personal information.


Find a Service Provider

The Dignity Memorial® network serves families through more than 1,600 service providers across North America. Enter a ZIP code or city name to find a provider near you.

Contact Us

Email Us

800-34-DIGNITY

Click here to find a provider near you.