Did you know that a will is separate from funeral and cemetery arrangements?
Most Canadians have a will or have it on their to-do list. But many don’t realize they’re missing the final step in their end-of-life planning.
Funeral and cemetery arrangements are separate from your will and it’s something many of us don’t talk about. 57% of Canadians don’t know the end-of-life wishes for any of their loved ones. Including their parents.
Let’s change that by starting the conversation.
Why is it important to talk to your parents’ about final arrangements?
Your parents’ end-of-life plans are about more than the preference for cremation or burial they expressed in their will.
You want to make sure you do right by your parents, which means eliminating the guesswork from how to honour their legacy. The best way is to start a conversation.
And that may not seem easy at first—maybe your parents think it’s bad luck to talk about death or you’re simply not used to having these kinds of sensitive conversations. But without them, you might not be able to honour their wishes.
Let’s consider just a few common scenarios:
- Your guardian wants to be laid to rest in a family burial plot from generations ago—but they’ve never mentioned it
- Even if they don’t follow other religious or cultural practices, your parents imagine having a traditional send-off
- One parent originally pre-planned with their former spouse and needs to update their final arrangements to honour their blended family
While the conversation can feel difficult, it’s worth it, not only for their happiness and finances, but also for your peace of mind.
That’s why we’re giving you 4 tips to start the conversation today.
1) Use an object to open the discussion
Consider taking pressure off your parents (and yourself) by starting the conversation with something to look at while you speak.
For example, you might grab a photo album off their shelf and ask how they want their life to be remembered. You can call your parents and tell them you stumbled across a prayer card from your aunt’s funeral that made you curious about whether she had planned it. Or perhaps wear the necklace you inherited from your grandmother and ask how she made those final decisions.
The idea is to let the object trigger the conversation and give it purpose. Talking about something specific can make it easier to explore a topic that might otherwise feel overwhelming.
2) Talk about a funeral you attended
Talking about other people’s final arrangements is a natural way to start the conversation with your parents because it’s focused externally—this was someone else’s passing. Once you’re on the topic, it’s a gentler transition to what your parents want for themselves.
So, how do you bring it up? You might have said goodbye to someone recently, but it could have been years since the last funeral you attended. If that’s the case, try mentioning how you were thinking of a passed loved one the other day, or tell your parents that you drove by the cemetery where someone you know was laid to rest. Share with them how it brought up memories of that final goodbye and got you thinking about what you want—or don’t want.
For example, “I remember they had an open casket at the funeral. I’d personally prefer not to. What do you think about it?”
3) Share the financial benefits
The financial angle can be a very effective option if your parents feel that discussing death is morbid or unlucky. It’s especially useful if they take pride in being financially responsible or plan to leave a financial legacy for their children or a charity. Connecting the topic of pre-planning to their values will help persuade them that it’s a conversation worth having.
There are countless financial benefits to pre-planning final arrangements, such as:
- Locking in today’s prices to avoid ever-rising funeral and cemetery costs
- Securing a payment plan now instead of leaving their spouse or children to cover the costs amid their grief
- Peace of mind, knowing that the money won’t come out of their children’s pockets, inheritances, or charitable gifts they had planned to leave behind
A good way to bring up the financial benefits of pre-planning is to share that you just learned about it in a blog post or from a financial advisor.
4) Watch a webinar
Sometimes the easiest way to start a difficult conversation is to let the professionals help you!
You and your parents can join Arbor Memorial, Willful partner and Canada’s largest funeral and cemetery provider, at a free webinar on November 9th about pre-plan cemetery and funeral arrangements. Broken down in a clear and approachable way.
Willful customers will receive an invitation in the coming weeks. Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Try introducing the idea of a webinar like this:
“I recently made a will and was surprised to learn that there’s much more to completing your estate plan–including making funeral and cemetery plans.. I found a free webinar on Nov. 9th to learn how pre-planning works. I’d like us to watch it together.”
Here are some other persuasive tips, depending on their personalities:
- Try phrasing the invite as them doing you a favour by watching it with you.
- “Assume” they’ve made arrangements by asking about where they pre-planned. It’s possible they’ve made arrangements but never told you. If not, your question will plant the seed that it’s a normal step in life, just like planning for retirement or crafting a will.
The best benefit of talking about pre-planning
Starting the conversation with your parents about final arrangements provides more than peace of mind: it allows you to get to know each other's values more deeply and reflect on shared memories. You’ll feel satisfied knowing that their final wishes will be honoured.
Remember to sign up with your parents for Arbor Memorial’s webinar on November 9th to learn the precise steps on how to pre-plan.