75 Big Questions to Ask Your Parents Before They Die

Of course you have questions for a dying parent, but maybe you're unsure where to start. Use these suggestions to get this meaningful conversation rolling.

Published October 16, 2020
Overjoyed mature mother and adult son talking to each other

It can be an incredibly beautiful experience to sit down and better understand the life of your parent or parents before they pass away. Take your time deciding which meaningful questions to ask your parents before they die.

Questions to Ask Your Parents Before They Die

Asking your parent or parents questions before they pass away can help you better understand their life, their choices, as well as how they'd like to be remembered after they've passed. You may consider recording their answers in some way to have as a keepsake. You can do so by writing the answers in a notebook, video recording their responses, or audio recording your conversation with them.

Family Questions

Family questions you may consider asking:

  • What were your nicknames growing up?
  • Can you tell me a little about your siblings?
  • Who were you closest to in your immediate family?
  • What were your parent(s) or caregiver(s) like when you were growing up?
  • What lessons were stressed in your household?
  • How was family conflict resolved?
  • How was love expressed?
  • Who was the funniest member in the family?
  • Who was the most competitive?
  • Did you have any family pets?
  • Where did you live?
  • Did you share a room with anyone?
  • What memory exemplifies your family's values?
  • What was a difficult situation that your family overcame together?
  • What did your parent(s) or caregiver(s) do for work?

Related: Anticipatory Grief Symptoms & Coping Strategies

Senior woman and adult daughter laughing on porch

Childhood Questions

Childhood questions include:

  • What's one of the best childhood memories you can recall?
  • Which birthday was your favorite, and why?
  • What was a difficult childhood moment for you?
  • What were you like as a child?
  • Who were your best friends growing up?
  • Did you collect anything?
  • What hobbies did you enjoy in your childhood?
  • What was your favorite childhood book?
  • What subject was your favorite in school?
  • What was your favorite toy?
  • Did you have a favorite family trip?
  • What was your favorite game to play?
  • What were your dreams or hopes as a child?
  • What was your school experience like?
  • What were your plans after you finished schooling?

Reflection Questions

Some reflection questions:

  • Is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
  • What's one of the best decisions you ever made, and why?
  • What was the best date you've ever been on like?
  • When did you know you were ready to have your first child?
  • What was it like transitioning to a first-time parent?
  • How many times have you been in love and with whom?
  • What's your favorite parenting memory?
  • What was the hardest aspect of being a parent?
  • How did you overcome challenges as an adult?
  • Who were your closest friends as an adult?
  • What was your favorite family activity to do?
  • What was a difficult moment you overcame?
  • Was there a moment that changed your life significantly?
  • How did you handle stress as an adult?
  • What's one of the most special experiences you went through as an adult?
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Wisdom and Advice Questions

Wisdom and advice questions include:

  • When did you know you liked (insert partner's name)?
  • What's the best advice you've ever received and who gave it to you?
  • What did you learn from your parent(s) or caregiver(s) that you passed along?
  • Do you have any regrets?
  • What feels like the biggest accomplishment to you?
  • What advice would you like to pass along to your family's youngest generation?
  • What words have you lived by?
  • What's your favorite quote or saying?
  • What book do you recommend everyone reads, and why?
  • What do you think is the meaning of life?
  • What do you think happens after someone passes away?
  • What is your wish for our family?
  • What's one secret you never told anyone?
  • What's one thing you're really proud of yourself for that you've never told anyone about?
  • What are you most grateful for?
Quick Tip

Depending on your relationship with your parent, you may prefer some lighter, more general questions. These conversation starters for seniors might be better options.

Legacy Questions

Legacy questions include:

  • How do you want to be remembered?
  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What's one thing you want us to always remember about you?
  • What lessons do you hope I pass along to your grandchildren and great grandchildren that I learned from you?
  • Are there any recipes or meals you want us to continue making in your honor?
  • What can we do as a family to honor you after you've passed away?
  • Is there anything about our family that you'd like us to know?
  • What are your top three family memories?
  • How would you describe our family in a few words?
  • What do you think makes our family unique?
  • How well do you know me?
  • What do you think is your best trait?
  • What do you feel passionate about?
  • How have you grown as a person?
  • Was there a moment in your life that has stuck with you throughout the years?
  • What do you think you were known for?
Senior mom receiving sons visit

Things to Do With Your Parents Before They Die

Prior to passing away, you may want to spend extra time with your parent or parents. You may consider:

  • Reading to them
  • Listening to music together
  • Watching a favorite show or movie
  • Visiting a favorite spot with them if they are able to do so
  • Making them their favorite meal or goodie

No matter what you decide to do, simply spending time with them and being with them can mean a lot to both of you during this time.

Questions to Ask a Dying Parent

Asking your parent meaningful questions before they pass away can allow you to better understand them and record their legacy, which you can pass along to other generations within the family.

75 Big Questions to Ask Your Parents Before They Die