Calm down. I know you probably love your parents, or that you may no longer have a hypothetical choice over which of them will die first. Maybe you’re thinking it’s offensive that I would even ‘go there.’ This is a loaded, sensitive question and you’re probably feeling defensive or like I’m a complete sociopath for asking it. But before you valiantly ride into the comment section on your high horse to tell me how deranged I am, take a deep breath and remind yourself that everyone will die someday — you, me, and definitely your parents. There’s no shame in our collective game. We will all die.
That being said, which parent would you prefer goes first? And remember — answering this question honestly does not make you a bad person. It’s merciful to consider that one parent is financially dependent on the other, or that one gets more enjoyment out of life than the other does. Maybe one of your parents is Gandhi and the other is Joan Crawford and your decision is a no-brainer. I’m not asking you to wish death on one of your parents, just that you confront their mortality (and your own) in a logical way. For example: I’d want my mother to die first because my dad is more independent and capable of taking care of himself — emotionally and financially — than my mother is. I just don’t see her holding it down as a widow.
So which of your parents should outlive the other? And more importantly, why?