Talking with your parents: Part 3—Sample conversations and emails

In this part of the series we give you actual talking points and email templates that you can use right away.

(Check out Part 1 and Part 2 for how to plan for the conversation and what to say in person.)

This is especially helpful for those of us who live far away from our parents.  Distance can be one of the reasons that we delay or avoid having this conversation–but there is no rule that says this has to start as a face-to-face conversation! Let’s be realistic: who would want to bring up death at Thanksgiving, especially when we only see our folks a couple times a year?

For you and your family, it might be easier to start with communication that is asynchronous (like email) or just a phone call.

Here is some sample language that can be personalized, whether you’re calling or emailing:


  • Hey Dad, before you go, there’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about. Now that you and Mom are planning for retirement / moving / getting to spend more time with all of the grandkids, I’ve been wondering if there are things you think are important for me to know in case of an emergency.
  • I recently found out about this online tool called Cake that helps you put your thoughts in writing and save them so they can be shared with other people including (insert siblings’ names, other relatives’ names), not just me. It gives us a guide to what you want. That way we’re all on the same page. You and Mom are already amazing in thinking about this, but it might even raise other issues to consider. Would you want to take a look?
  • Mom, I think we should talk about what we should do as a family in case an emergency comes up.  There is this online tool called Cake that can help us navigate all the different choices and it would be great if we could do it together.

Here is sample text for an email:

Hi <Person you care about>,
I recently found out about Cake, a service that makes it easier for people of all ages to discover their end-of-life preferences and share them with their loved ones.

Having a better understanding of what’s important to you in life, including your preferences at end-of-life, would really give me peace of mind…but I know it’s an awkward thing to talk about!

I tried the app myself, and it’s really simple (and even a little bit fun). I wanted to share my Cake profile with you, so you could understand how it works and then see if we could do this together.

You can go to to read more about it and sign up to get the app for free, and then we can chat about what you think. And since I’m an early access member, (if we decide we need it) we can also get consultations with end-of-life experts – free of charge.

Thanks for being willing to start talking about it.


Have you already had this conversation? Let us know how it went!  We want to hear from you about what worked and didn’t work–tell us your stories!


Also, we are building out new features that help specifically with how to bring up this topic with the people you care about.

Take 30 seconds and let us know in the comments or this survey what features would be helpful to you! Some examples: annotating CAKE cards, live chat with advance care planning experts, game: “can you guess how your loved one would answer?”


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