Several years ago, a few days before she was to leave for an extended stay overseas, a friend paid one of her frequent visits to her father, who lived nearby.

He wanted her to look over "his papers," by which she knew he meant his will.

"I was horrified," she told me at the time.

Did he think she was interested in his money? Why should he bring up the subject? His death was something she refused to contemplate. So she brushed him off.

"Don't be silly, Dad," she said. "There's no need for that kind of a discussion. We can do it when I get back."

The father, who rarely acknowledged feelings or expressed opinions about personal matters, didn't push, and the subject was changed.

But while she was away, he became ill, and by the time she could get home from a great distance, he had died.

Her grief was mixed with tremendous regret. She realized she had rebuffed a rare chance to speak to him about important issues — not only finances, but unresolved issues in the family and her love and appreciation for all he had done for her throughout her life. And now she never could.

Unfortunately, my friend's situation is not unique.

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