We all have things we hope to accomplish or experience in our lifetime. We want to leave this life knowing we’ve lived it to the fullest and left our mark on the world. 

When our remarkable loved ones near the end of their life, it’s an honor to help them determine and execute their final wishes. This can be a time to do something they’ve always wanted to do or take a trip that they’ve always dreamed about.

Helping our loved ones fulfill their final wishes is a healing experience for both us and them. It provides them with peace that they’ve accomplished all they’ve set out to do. It also gives us the opportunity to spend some of their precious final moments with them.

Today, we’ll walk you through some ideas regarding how to help your loved one choose and execute their final wishes.

Why It’s Important to Honor Final Wishes

When we talk about final wishes, this includes both funeral planning and life goals.

Collecting and executing our incredible final wishes is a way to honor their life even after our loved ones have passed. Funerals and memorial services seek to celebrate a life well lived and provide an opportunity to share stories about their incredible legacy. Learning and executing our loved one’s funeral wishes helps us celebrate their lives in a way that reflects their unique impact. 

We can also help our loved ones fulfill their final wishes by checking off bucket list items during their final days and months. If our loved ones are able, the last months of their life can be dedicated to achieving lifelong goals and living longtime dreams. This helps provide a sense of closure both to us and our loved ones, knowing they were able to experience everything they hoped to do and see during their time on Earth.

Talking About Final Wishes

Discussing death with our loved ones can be challenging. We often don’t talk about death because it brings up difficult emotions such as anxiety, fear, and sadness. Still, death is the one thing in life that’s guaranteed, and being able to talk about it with our loved ones can help us process our feelings.

Talking about death is the only way we can learn about our loved one’s final wishes in order to help them fulfill their goals. Avoiding the topic won’t stop death from happening — it will just delay the beginning of our journey towards healing.

Talking about death can satisfy several needs for us and our loved ones. Open conversations help us shape our loved one’s final moments around their desires. It also provides peace of mind knowing that we are celebrating them according to their wishes. 

Facilitating open and honest conversations about death helps us come face to face with its unknowns and achieve a deeper acceptance of death as a part of life. 

Ways to Collect Final Wishes 

When you know that a loved one is nearing the end of their life, you can begin learning about their final wishes. If they have already taken the time to think about what their final wishes might be, you can begin developing a plan for how to make them come true. 

If your loved ones haven’t thought much about their bucket list, you can help them put together a list of their final wishes and hopes using these helpful ideas.

Writing a Bucket List

Writing a bucket list is one way to organize and collect a remarkable loved one’s final wishes. A bucket list contains everything that someone hopes to accomplish or experience throughout their life. 

Bucket lists can contain anything from career accomplishments to hopes and dreams about family life. Bucket lists also tend to include dream travel destinations or exciting experiences such as skydiving or bungee jumping. 

Creating a bucket list is a great way to organize and record our lifelong hopes and dreams. Bucket lists may also help us to bring these dreams to life. When we can see our goals and dreams in front of us, in the form of a list, it helps us to be motivated to accomplish these things. 

Consider these questions to help inspire your loved one’s bucket list items:

  1. Where in the world would you like to visit?
  2. Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to learn?
  3. What was your childhood dream?
  4. What has been your biggest dream throughout your lifetime?

Asking questions like these can guide our loved ones and help them reflect on their lives. Not only does this help them celebrate the life they’ve lived, but it can also help them plan for their final hopes. 

Some people also recommend helping your loved one write their own eulogy as a way of helping them write their bucket list. This is because it helps them realize their values and how they hope to be remembered. This can also help them see the things they have already accomplished and the dreams that were fulfilled throughout their lifetime. 

Working With a Death Doula

Working with a death doula is another way to help collect a loved one’s final wishes. A death doula provides trained non-medical support throughout the dying process. They remain with our loved ones before and during the time of their death to provide emotional and physical support. They also generally remain with the family for a few weeks after a loved one passes to provide emotional and physical support to surviving loved ones. 

A death doula can also help our loved ones create their end-of-life plan before they pass on. An end-of-life plan helps our loved ones determine how they will settle their affairs and how they would like to spend their last days. 

Creating an end-of-life plan may include helping a loved one write their will or determining what accounts will need to be closed after they pass. An end-of-life plan also sets out how our loved ones would like their last moments to look. It also helps our loved ones to start thinking about their wishes for a funeral or memorial service. This process blends practical and emotional support during the planning process.

Since death doulas work to advocate on behalf of our loved ones, it’s beneficial to be in constant communication with your loved one’s death doula. This will ensure that you are considering your loved one’s final wishes. Once your loved one’s death doula helps them to create an end-of-life plan, you can come alongside your loved one as they make sure their final wishes are executed. 

Executing Final Wishes

Now that you and your loved one have decided how they would like to spend some of their final moments, it is time to execute their wishes. 

This is a time to create memories and experiences together as a family that you will cherish forever. It is a time when bucket lists are fulfilled and final hopes and dreams are checked off. Executing final wishes with your loved ones is a meaningful experience that encourages them to live their lives to the fullest. 

When it comes to executing your loved one’s final wishes, there are a few factors you might want to consider. 

Record Final Wishes in a Planner

First, it can be helpful to create a final wishes planner with your loved one. A final wishes planner or organizer is a place where our loved ones can include their hopes for their last days. It allows them to record the things that are most important to them as they near their final moments. 

This planner may include a space for our loved ones to record notes about their final wishes. They can also create a final wishes checklist to help organize the things they hope to accomplish in their last days. 

Include Family Members and Friends

Fulfilling bucket list dreams and goals is a way to invite family members and friends into the end-of-life process. Not only does this create memorable experiences for the entire family, but it reminds our loved ones that they are not alone in their final moments. 

Creating experiences for families to partake in together can aid surviving loved ones’ healing journey after loss. It provides families with the peace of mind that they got to be with their loved ones in their last days and create lifelong memories.  

Decide When You Will Execute These Final Wishes

Creating a plan or schedule to execute these experiences will help everyone involved to know how and when bucket list items will be checked off. 

If your loved one has a dream travel destination they hope to visit before they die, take time to plan a trip to this destination. If their final wishes include learning a new skill or language, determine when you will start the learning process. 

Mapping out a plan for how final wishes will be carried out is a helpful way of ensuring that your loved one will get to have these experiences before they pass. 

Document Your Experiences 

Documenting your experience is something you’ll always be thankful that you did. Remember to take pictures and videos of yourself and your loved one while fulfilling some of these bucket list items. 

These will become meaningful keepsakes to return to after your loved one passes. They will help to keep the memory of these experiences as well as the memory of your loved one alive. 

You can even take time after each bucket list experience for you and your loved one to write about how the experience made you feel. 

Write about whether you felt excited or scared as you set out to create new experiences or learn a new skill. Write about how it felt to experience these things with each other. These journal entries will become sentimental tokens of celebration to return to after your loved one has passed. 

Wrapping Up

Talking about death with our loved ones can be a difficult task. However, it helps us know how to carry out their final wishes in a way that celebrates their impact and legacy. We want to be a part of making our loved one’s final wishes a reality, before and after they have passed. 

Collecting and executing their final wishes helps provide closure for all those involved. It allows us the chance to create memorable experiences with our loved ones before they pass. It also allows our loved ones to leave this life knowing they have lived it to the fullest. 

Being a part of collecting and executing a loved one’s wishes is an experience you’ll treasure long after they have passed. 


About death and dying | Hospice UK

End-of-life planning: Definition and what to expect | Medical News Today 

Five Things to Know About Death Doulas | Cremation Association of North America (CANA)