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Make sure to tell your kids

Talking to your children about end of life issues

As we age, we reflect on our own mortality, and the meaning of the Resurrection and eternal life. We’ve modeled faith to our children, and as we approach the last part of our lives, we have an opportunity to do that again, and also to give them some practical help for the time after our deaths.

Here are some things to do, and conversations to have, with your family or your heirs.

  1. Talk to them about what kind of care you want when recovery is no longer possible. Do you want palliative care only – ordinary care? Or do you want every possible measure taken to extend your time – extraordinary care?  Consider establishing a medical durable power of attorney so that your instructions are followed.
  2. Tell your children you want to receive the sacrament of anointing of the sick (formerly Last Rites) if you are close to death and unable to speak for yourself.
  3. Make sure your heirs know you want a Catholic funeral. Discuss whether you prefer cremation.
  4. Make sure your estate is in order: talk to an attorney about setting up a will or trust. If it’s the latter, make sure to follow the instructions to populate the trust. 
  5. Let your children or heirs know how to find the things they’ll need after you die: your will or trust, titles for cars and real estate, the keys for your safe deposit box, your online passwords. Don’t forget the answers to all those pesky security questions – your children may not know the name of your favorite elementary school teacher.

Nothing will eliminate the grief your family will feel, but taking these steps can ease the confusion and stress that accompany death. It can become your final gift of faithful love.