My parents have always tried to shelter me from trauma (divorces, illnesses and deaths in the family, and so on) which makes it difficult to broach the subject of death with them. This is more of an issue as they grow older and others in their generation grow ill or die. What are good ways to persuade them that they can talk to me about these events, rather than continue to try to 'protect' me from them by not mentioning them?

For added difficulty, I live about 7,000 miles and 8 time zones away from my parents, so starting a casual conversation probably isn't as easy as if we were in the same town - anything in particular that can be recommended to overcome this?

  • 2
    An interesting variation of "parenting" ;)
    – TwoThe
    Mar 13, 2014 at 10:26
  • Thanks - I couldn't see another community on SE that would be more appropriate to ask this in - maybe it should be construed in the same way as "managing up" in the workplace
    – JamesF
    Mar 13, 2014 at 13:27

1 Answer 1


If this is just about you being notified about extended family events, try (when you find out) saying something like:

I didn't know that Uncle Eddie had died. I wish someone had told me at the time so I could have sent a card.

Depending on the response this is getting, you could go on

I know I'm far away, but not being told when things happen make me feel even further away. I want to stay connected, and be told the news, even if it's bad news.

If this is more about wanting to know their wishes when they die, that is a lot harder. The only way these conversations started in our family is when someone died unexpectedly and everyone had a great deal of difficulty making arrangements, finding bank account information and so on. Seeing us struggle with that inspired a lot of people to talk to their adult children about where the paperwork was, that sort of thing. If someone where you live now has just been through that, you could share the story with you parents in the hope of inspiring them to make your task easier later (we all hope much later, of course.)

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