You may be really clear who it would be good to talk with first, or it may be worth thinking through who could be involved, who you would like involved, and how.
Distance, skills, personality and relationship may all play a part in your decisions. You may want to talk first with someone who could help you decide how and when to talk with others. Some people prefer to start talking to someone they trust but are less emotionally close with, before starting a conversation with those closest to you. Perhaps you’d value people playing different roles now, later on and after you die. There might be someone you haven’t seen for a while.
You may notice that the people you know can be loosely grouped:
Those whom hold you close
These people may have expectations that need to be addressed, for example, if you live closer to one relative. If you can state your preference clearly, the potential for upset and misunderstandings later is much reduced. If these conversations are handled well, these people know they are valued, know who and why others are more involved and will be more inclined to support your wishes when the time comes.
It is important that you discuss all the issues you can about how you would like the end of your life to be managed. Let them know how you wish to be cared for, where you want that care to take place, your funeral arrangements and how your affairs are to be managed. Even if one of your family is appointed an attorney or executor be open and talk to other members of your family. It may save squabbles and differences after you die.
By talking to your family, you give them strength to cope with what is often a difficult family time. Sometimes, close family and friends are the people who find it most difficult to talk. The thought of letting go of a parent, a spouse, a partner, a child is more than daunting. This needs love, patience and understanding.
Those whom you hold close and would wish to be around towards the end of your life
These people may or may not have an “official” appointed role as above. They could be family or friends or professionals. The more these people know of your wishes, the more they can help to ensure they are met e.g. whether to take you to hospital. These can be emotional conversations and rewarding for the other to understand their significance to you.
Professionals – most likely solicitors and doctors
These conversations tend to relate to information you need from them, what you want to tell them or instructions that you want them to act on. These conversations are often lead or guided by the professional and so can be less emotionally charged, more factual, than other conversations.
Appointees – executors, guardians, or attorneys
In this situation when you approach friends or family that you want to act for you in an official way it is useful to be clear about what you are asking for, and to give them time to think about their response. Having a back-up plan if your first choice refuses can also make the conversation easier and allow them to feel they have a genuine choice over whether to accept or decline. Once an agreement has been made, there will be information you need to share so that the other can respond as and when the time arises.