Excerpt from Daily Cures, Wisdom for Healthy Aging by Connie Mason Michaelis
Many conversations happen between parents and their children over the years. Parents recognize their responsibility to educate their children from infancy to adulthood. We teach our children about sharing, following rules, being kind, being truthful, et.al. Some of those talks are awkward (like sex education) but are necessary. Not only do we train them, but we hold them accountable. We hope and pray those instructions hold tight as they enter adulthood. There comes a point where we no longer instruct but occasionally give advice when we’re asked. But there is another critical conversation that parents need to have with their kids much later in life.
It came to mind again during the holiday gatherings this year. My kids are very aware of my interest and devotion to successful aging, but they grow strangely quiet at the discussion of my death or the need for understanding the many issues that will ensue. Things like the durable power of attorney for healthcare and finances, funeral and burial plans, personal property dispersion, etc., seem to be taboo or at least pushed off for another day. Granted, they are not happy topics, but family gatherings are an appropriate time to share such information. We always assume we’ll have another day to do it---not true. Sure, you can write it all down and leave it in a safe place to be discovered after your death, but there is a particular joy in getting to share your important and final wishes while you can. My mother was a great example to me. She had the durable powers carefully planned. She marked her treasures with the family recipient’s names. Although her estate was meager, she had it carefully arranged. The beautiful thing was that there were many conversations about all of those decisions. It wasn’t always comfortable, but I’m so glad we did.
"Difficult conversations are never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values." Douglas Stone