Five Tips to Start a Funeral Planning Conversation

By Gail Rubin, CT

Funeral planning is a hard conversation to start. However, just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant, talking about funerals won’t make you dead – and your family can reduce stress at a time of grief, save money and create a meaningful, memorable “good goodbye.”

These five simple tips can help start the conversation.

1. Lead by Example: If parents or a partner avoid the funeral planning topic, make your own plans and invite them to come along for the ride. It’s a fascinating shopping trip. Anyone up for a trip to the cemetery to browse for burial plots?

The Six Wives of Henry Lefay2. Watch a Funny Film: Laughter can help circumvent discomfort with death. Laugh and learn by screening light romantic comedies such as Undertaking Betty, Elizabethtown or The Six Wives of Henry Lefay.  Comedy can lead to conversation after the film ends. Here’s a list of funny film recommendations. Watch a TV Interview: The 12-episode television interview series A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die covers everything you need to know BEFORE there’s a death in the family. The expert interviews cover pre-need planning, cemetery issues, cremation, financial issues, green burial, pet loss, hospice and palliative care, grief, and much more.

Learn more about the DVD set of the TV series A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die.

4. Shop Before You Drop: If your car died, wouldn’t you think about what you wanted, do some research and shop around before you bought a new one? Apply that sensibility to funerals before someone dies. You’ll save money and reduce stress not if but when a death in the family occurs.

5. Play The Newly-Dead Game™: Based on the premise of the classic TV show “The Newlywed Game,” this card-based game tests how well you know someone else’s last wishes. You can use it to start the conversation with life partners, parents, or anyone else for whom you might be called upon to plan a funeral. Learn more about The Newly-Dead Game.

Take some time to think about how you would like to be remembered and to let those you love know how you’d like your life celebrated. The family’s experience of a funeral or memorial service is so much better when a loved one expresses their desires and values before dying.


Gail Rubin, CT is a Certified Funeral Celebrant, speaker, and author of A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die and The Family Plot Blog. She helps start the funeral planning conversation with a light touch. Her website is

A Good Goodbye