By this time next week, Thanksgiving dinner will be done, everyone stuffed, everyone hopefully still all speaking to one another.

I often hear the suggestion among End-of-Life planning people that holidays are a good time to discuss your last wishes— good as in convenient, because you’re theoretically with a large portion of your family all in one place.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-10-28-44-pmBut to me, someone who admittedly could talk about end-of-life at any given moment… shoot, even I don’t particularly want to talk about death and funerals on a holiday. (Although this year, perhaps it’s the safest discussion we could have! Food for thought.)

However, for anyone who thinks they’d like to take it on, or perhaps are desperate for any subject other than politics, here’s 3 easy ways, using the Thanksgiving theme, to start a conversation:

  1. Tradition. Have people say what one funeral tradition they definitely want at their own goodbye party (definitely want bagpipes, definitely want Amazing Grace, definitely want the flowers tossed onto the casket at the cemetery). OR, what they would like that’s not traditional (want a standing ovation, want everyone to wear a hat, want everyone to bring their dog).
  2. Food. So easy. People can talk about what kind of food they want at their celebration. Fancy, casual, pot luck, sit-down, buffet, BBQ, brunch… like how on your birthday you mother would make your favorite meal? Your choice!
  3. Giving Back. What’s one thing you would like to have done in your honor—a donation, contribution, good deed, volunteer project—something that benefits a person or a cause.

Funny, this has never occurred to me before: My birthday is always around Thanksgiving, and this year it happens to be on Thanksgiving (Yay ME, I love that). Not that I’ve haven’t always known this, but I’d never once before this moment thought that because of that, I deserve me a little Thanksgiving at my goodbye party! Big turkey dinner? A parade? Little turkey candles for everyone? A gravy contest, a nap fest, a giant cornucopia of all things Kyle? LOL. I’m excited to ponder this and add it to my plans-in-progress for the big day.

So be brave and take it on, or don’t… but either way, remember that saying goodbye to someone is as much about thanking them for who they were and the difference they made in your life as it is about mourning.

Gratitude, baby. Gratitude.