Advance Care Planning: Conversations with your parents, children and/or Substitute Decision-Maker 

News & Updates | April 19, 2024 | Sarah Dobec

Home / News & Updates / Advance Care Planning: Conversations with your parents, children and/or Substitute Decision-Maker 
A photo of the cover of the new ACP kit and a young woman having a conversation with an older woman

April is Advance Care Planning Month and DWDC is celebrating with an updated and improved Advance Care Planning (ACP) Kit. Death Doula Jo-Anne Haun hosts ACP workshops to help people start and complete their Advance Directives. She shared her best tips with us in this three-part blog series.


How would you suggest a parent bring up their health care wishes with their child, or how does anyone with a completed Advance Care Plan bring it up with the people they want to know to know? 

Find time for these types of conversations, don’t rush it or expect it to happen in one sitting. This is emotional stuff that people sometimes need to think about and come to terms with. Be gentle but forthright; for most people this is not your normal dinnertime conversation. 

Start with a story about how you learned about the importance of Advance Care Planning. “I went to this workshop that walked me through completing my Advance Care Plan, I want to tell you about it.” 

If a child wants to know their parent’s health care wishes, how would you recommend they bring it up? 

Start from a place of love, “I want to be sure that your wishes are honoured, but I need to know more about what you do or do not want if you can’t speak for yourself.” 

You will also want to talk about after-death care such as burial or cremation. Frame it in a way that you are asking for help, “Help me understand what you want so I can honour you properly.” 

Print and share the Advance Care Planning Kit with them so they have a starting place. 

What should we consider when we choose a Substitute Decision-Maker or more than one? 

First think about who in your life would be: 

Don’t assume your Substitute Decision-Maker should be a family member. When someone is in hospital or at the end of life, it is a stressful time for family. Think about whether a non-family member be a good option for you? 

What’s the best way to ask someone to be your Substitute Decision-Maker? 

Start by telling them about the work you have been doing to prepare your Advance Care Plan. You can explain what it is, why it’s important to you, and ask them if they would take on the role of your Substitute Decision-Maker. 

Again, don’t rush the conversation and give them time to consider your request. 

Download an Advance Care Planning Kit here.

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