How to Talk About End-of-Life Over the Holidays

Photo by Jonathan Borba via Unsplash

End-of-life planning can be a difficult topic to discuss, but it is an important one. The holidays can be a good time to bring up the subject with your loved ones because it is a time when families often come together and can have more time to have these types of conversations. Here are some tips for having a productive and respectful conversation about end-of-life planning over the holidays. Let’s have a look at these end-of-life conversation starters.

8 tips for starting end-of-life talks

  1. Choose a time and place that is private and comfortable for all parties involved. The holidays can be a busy and chaotic time, so make sure to find a quiet moment to have this important conversation.
  2. Start by letting your loved ones know that you want to have an important and sensitive conversation with them.
  3. Be open and honest about why you think it’s important to have this conversation. You might say something like, “I care about you and I want to make sure that your wishes are respected if something happens to you. I also want to make sure that our family is prepared to support you in any way that you need”. Feel free to change things up accordingly.
  4. Ask your loved ones if they would be open to having this conversation. Or maybe if they have any concerns or questions. Then listen carefully to their responses and try to address any concerns they may have.
  5. If your family is open to talking, try to start by asking what their thoughts are on end-of-life planning. Ask them what their wishes are in terms of medical treatment or funeral arrangements.
  6. Be prepared to share your own thoughts and wishes, and be open to hearing and considering the ideas of your loved ones.
  7. Be respectful of your loved ones’ decisions and try to avoid being judgmental or pushing your own agenda. Remember that end-of-life planning is a personal decision and everyone has the right to make their own choices. You would expect the same after all.
  8. Do you need help starting the conversation or if you have any questions about end-of-life planning? Then consider speaking with a healthcare provider or a financial planner who’ll provide you with more information and guidance. Myend also offers chatting options – just click on the bottom-right chat.

More tips for holidays end-of-life conversation starters

  1. Don’t say end-of-life: The term “end-of-life,” while accurate, can be uncomfortable to hear. You’ll want to choose a more comfortable phrase that works for your loved one and their situation.
  2. Start Small: If you’re worried that your loved one will feel overwhelmed by the conversation, start small. Rather than diving into all the details of their wishes for end-of-life care, change the topic for a bit. This can make defuse the situation for a second, so you can revisit it a bit later.

  3. Be thorough and give examples. You don’t want to scare your loved ones, but also you want to paint them a clear picture. If you have any relatives who’ve made end-of-life plans now is the time to mention them. If they’re over for the holidays, even better!
  4. Use resources and tools to help guide the conversation: There are many online resources and tools available, such as guides and checklists, that can help you and your loved ones understand the different aspects of end-of-life planning. Myend’s platform is excellent example of that.

By following all the above end-of-life conversation starters, you can have a productive and respectful conversation about end-of-life planning with your loved ones over the holidays.

Final Thoughts

Your first talk about an end-of-life plan, might not be too detailed or elaborate. Remember that this is the holiday period and people might not want to get into serious conversations for too long. Even laying the foundations would do it for now. Finally keep in mind that if you already have an estate plan it could be easier to show them. One picture is a thousand words after all. Sign up today and be prepared for any talk.

Navigating Terminal Illness

Download our Guide with 10 tips for those dealing with a terminal illness, or for loved ones supporting someone who is terminally ill.

Free End of Life planner

Sign up to receive our free checklist to help you get started with your End of Life Plan
Previous slide
Next slide

Organize, store, and share all the life-essential information in one place.


Myend is not a law firm, it does not engage in the practice of law, and it does not render any official legal advice. Therefore, you are hereby advised to seek your own legal counsel regarding any legal issues. Myend’s articles are meant to be taken as suggestions and therefore Myend carries no responsibility for the user’s actions.