The usual reason that people don’t make known the wishes for their funeral or memorial service to family members is because talking about death is not always a pleasant or comfortable subject. Although the reality is that everyone has to leave the earth at some point, thinking about and planning for it can be difficult. If you have an aging parent, or if someone in your life has a terminal illness, then it might be a subject that you should bring up - but make sure that you do so with sensitivity to help put your loved one at ease.

Question lightly

If you want to make sure to know your loved one’s wishes for their remains, ask them in a non-confrontational and non-threatening way. Having the conversation might not be comfortable, so tread lightly. If you ask a simple question like, “Do you know what you would like to have done if you were to die?”, you can guide them according to their response and how in-depth they want to go. If they don’t seem to want to talk about it, then don’t. You can try again on another occasion.

Give them options

If your loved one appears open to discussing how they would like to be honored in death, then try to give them options so that they can be concrete. If they say they would like to be buried, then find out where, and if a Winnipeg crematorium is an option. If they seem open to cremation, ask what they would like done with their ashes. Also, suggest new alternatives like bio-cremation to find out whether that is something that they would consider.

Ask them how they would envision it

The best way to plan for your funeral is to imagine that you will be in attendance and what you want the people left behind to feel and express. The reality is that the funeral or memorial service is not just for the person who is passing away. In most instances, it is for the ones left to grieve so they can do so together. Offering a way of accepting someone’s passing, ask your loved one what they would like everyone who is there to feel, and whether they want it to be traditional or if they want more of a celebratory occasion. To honor them the way they desire, let them guide you about what they want to come from it, who they want there, and what type of mood they want to create.

If they resist then back off

If you are trying to talk to someone about their final wishes and they don’t want to talk about it, then the truth is that they probably don’t really care all that much about how you memorialize them. They know that you love them enough to make the right decisions for them. If they aren’t concerned about what the funeral looks like, it is because they trust that you will know how to say goodbye and that you know them well enough to do so in the proper way. If they are uncomfortable, don’t force the issue - just let it be. If you try to get their opinion and they don’t have one, then take it for what it is worth.

If you are dealing with an aging parent or someone in your life who is terminally ill, you might feel the pressing need to discuss what they want to do with their remains and how they want to be honored. Although it is important for you to know if they have last wishes, if they don’t have any, then they trust that you will know what is important, will memorialize them properly, and that you will say goodbye in a respectful manner. 

In the end, funerals are more for the people who are left behind as a way to gather in community to say goodbye. If your loved one doesn’t seem interested, then don't keep pressing - just have faith that they have faith in your decisions.