Having the Talk of a Lifetime
I was walking to my room one day and my mother pulled me into her room and said, “We need to talk about something important.” Many thoughts came to my mind, “Did I do something wrong?” “Am I in trouble?… Oh no.” Neither of which was the case; it was something more unexpected. “I want to talk to you about what you need to do when we die.” Oh no, this is not what I expected. As she continued to talk, I remember thinking to myself, this is not going to happen. My parents are not going to die. I was a young teenager and unprepared to discuss any plans about what would happen that inevitable day.
Well that day did come many years later. I remember bits and pieces of that conversation we had, and I wish I had listened. She had tried many times to have that conversation, even toward the end, and still I wouldn’t. I would tell her, “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” or I would just change the subject. Luckily, she had written some of her wishes down in her beautifully crooked handwriting. The truth was, I’m not sure I would have ever been prepared to have the talk.
So, how do you have the talk of a lifetime with your loved ones?
I know this is a difficult topic. I personally experienced the uncomfortableness of that conversation with my mother. Some may say I was too young, but the truth is, it is very difficult to have this conversation with your loved ones. So, how should you approach this subject? Whether you’re the one who wants to talk about your own wishes with your children or you want to have this conversation with your parents, grandparents, etc., I believe the best way to start is by sharing your own stories or stories about life in general. Don’t stress about having the talk. Relax and listen carefully with an open mind and heart. Ask open-ended questions that require them to give you more than a one-word answer and listen to the details of that conversation. If they do not want to talk about a specific topic, let it go and respect that they are not ready to discuss whatever topic you are wanting to explore.
Just talk. Create memories. Treasure those moments.
I learned more about my mother after she passed away. I sat down one day with my father and even though I felt it was difficult to discuss, he started by sharing many memories of my mother and of himself-things I never knew-and then went on to talk about how important it was for me to know his final wishes. This time I listened and having the talk with him was so rewarding. He passed away a year later and I was able to fulfill his wishes. I knew what he wanted, and the best thing was, I was able to celebrate his life with the stories he shared. So, I urge you, sit and talk with your loved ones. There is no magic time, day, or age. It’s when you want to share a story or learn about a life.
by, Angelica Bailon
Resources: FAMIC’s https://www.talkofalifetime.org/
I’m sorry for your loss Angelica.
I’m glad Angelica learned early and I’m glad she listened. So many do not listen or understand how important it is to have the talk and many do not understand how important it is to prepare – even for themselves. And yes the talk can be touch and go, so respect is key.
Enjoy every moment, ask questions and make it a fun experience telling stories to each other with each visit. Our family after years of helping each other have learned to have general conversations about our life experiences. Some are so amazing, unbelievable, crazy and funny – so don’t wait for the talk – enjoy each others company now.
I’ve decided to partly write my obit. to help my family for when my time comes – which is not expected for a long. They can add their own stories of me and hopefully they’re some funny ones, because I know I’m a hoot! Our family has learned to make our crossing over a celebration of life, because our life is/was good, because we have family, friends and neighbors who care.