Dear Mom and Dad,
I love you and I want you to be around forever, but we need to talk about this whole getting older thing, and there are a few things I need you need to know.
- I want us to make as many memories as possible when we’re together. Years from now, I will not remember how long the dishes sat undone. I will remember you reading books with my daughter, and making funny animal noises.
- I need you to get rid of stuff as you age. I’m afraid that if there’s too much for me to sort through, important things will get lost in the shuffle. If there are things you want me to have, give them to me now, or tell me about them. I want to hear stories about family heirlooms, your old toys and your favorite Christmas tree ornaments. I want to put important things in a place of honor in my home while we can both enjoy them together.
- I need you to ask for help. It’s not shameful or weak to ask for help as you get older, it’s a sign of intelligence and adaptability. You’re still my parent, and you taught me to use a spoon, so I’m hardly in a position to judge. Getting a hand with cleaning, cooking, driving or other tasks when they get hard will make you less likely to get hurt. Injuries and accidents will make you less independent, and will be scary for me and others who love you. I don’t want to see you hurt.
- I need you to figure out about the health care you want at end-of-life, and write that down in an Advance Directive. I need you to educate yourself, and tell me, about how to take care of you if you can’t speak for yourself, including the tough stuff, like hydration and nutrition during the dying process. I want to know if you want to die at home or in the hospital. I will be devastated during this time. I need you to remove any guilt or uncertainty so I can focus on spending as much time with you as I can.
- I need you to tell me what you want after death. Tell me if you want to be an organ donor, and plans for your remains. Do you want to be buried? Cremated? Shot off in a firework? I want to know what songs you want at your funeral and your favorite charity for memorial contributions. I may not remember everything you tell me, so I’d like you to write as much down as possible and tell me where you keep those documents so I don’t have to search for them.
- I need you to make sure everyone is on the same page. My sister needs to know this stuff too, and any other family members who might want to be involved in making decisions. I will need the support of my family during this time, so I don’t want to end up arguing about what you would have wanted. It’s very important to me that your wishes are honored, so I will fight for you, but I don’t want to.