Talking to your parents about end of life and funeral arrangements

"It's not a conversation most middle-aged children want to have with their parents, but it's important," says Nicole Renwick, Executive Director of the Memorial Society of British Columbia.

"Often, when that conversation doesn't happen, children are unclear as to their parent's wishes," Nicole explains. "I've seen cases where one child has said that their parent wanted to buried and another felt that cremation was wanted. It leads to family arguments and the possibility that your wishes may not be carried out."

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The Memorial Society of B.C. has been encouraging members and their families to have an end of life planning conversation for more than 60 years. With in excess of 242,000 members around the province, the Society is the largest memorial society in North America.

"Your survivors can benefit from our help when the time comes," says Nicole. "Their first phone call should be to the Society. We can have your wishes for the disposition of your remains on file. We can then refer them to a registered funeral service provider that can offer them our member discount rate."

That one phone call can relieve your loved ones from the anxiety and discomfort related to shopping around for the best funeral services rate at a time of emotional stress.

"Unfortunately, we live in denial," says Nicole. "At the Society, we try to reach out to the children, who are usually in their forties and fifties, and encourage them to have the conversation with their parents. I've been at information sessions where a parent has shared that they have a pre-paid plot for their remains, but their child sitting next to them was totally unaware. They can't carry out your wishes if they don't know what they are."

It seems natural that we all plan for our vacations and retirement, but we don't want to plan for the end of life. This is a mistake, says Nicole.

"A man I know opens his lectures by saying, 'Dying is not a choice. It is going to happen.' With that in mind, it is important that we plan for the end and make sure our loved ones know our wishes. It will save them money and heartache at a difficult time."

For more information on the Memorial Society of B.C. visit the website, call 1.888.816.5902, email, or drop in the office at 205-640 West Broadway. The Memorial Society of B.C. can also be found on Facebook.

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