The Trouble with Dying

The Trouble with Dying

Preparing for Death

photo credit: keeva999 via photopin cc

The trouble with dying is that we don't know when we're going to die. In the U.S., a person dies in a car accident every 20 minutes based on 2012 statistics. In 2010, nearly 2.5 million people died from a wide variety of causes including murder, accident, suicide, weather-related, natural causes, etc.

My blog has been on hiatus for a while as my father-in-law passed away recently. He was in a good health and the death was sudden, taking all of us by surprise.

The sad truth is that we're all dying and when we go, the pieces of our life our left to those still living to try and pick up and make sense of, not to mention all of the details that are needed for making final memorial arrangements. The person who died doesn't realize the stress that's left to the surviving friends and family, regardless of if there's a plan already in place.

Today's post is going to look at being as prepared as one can be when it comes to dying, whether you're young or old. Below are four things to consider when planning for your next chapter.

Live Your Life and Enjoy It

Everyone dies, but not everyone really lives – Braveheart

First and foremost, live your life. I know a lot of people who go through life asking lots of questions and being scared about taking risks. I know others who are comfortable with where they are and additional people who are miserable and are doing nothing to better their situation. During my father-in-law's celebration of life, or funeral if you're in to semantics, the chaplain read a poem by Linda Ellis called The Dash. You may or may not have heard of it, but it discusses how life can be looked at as being a dash. Be good. Live your life. Enjoy it.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

That's pretty heavy stuff. Read the whole poem and you'll see for yourself that there's a lot of meaning as it pertains to your life. Go read it.

Spell Out Your Wishes

Create a Will or some sort of document that details what your expectations are with regards to your estate. Your estate includes all of your financial holdings (checking, savings, investments, etc.), real estate, personal property, pets, etc. You need to make sure you designate an executor of the estate. The executor is someone who oversees the sale of assets, closing accounts, paying bills, etc. when it comes to dealing with your passing and all things pertaining to your estate.

You should also detail what should be done with your remains. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Donated to science? You need to have those details conveyed to family. While my father-in-law had told everyone he wanted to be cremated, he didn't provide any instruction with regard to his funeral. You can imagine the varying feelings and ideas with regard to his celebration among family members. Should it be big? Should it be small? Open casket or closed? What music does he want? and on and on. My mother-in-law told me that she's gathering all fo the pictures that she would want shown at her memorial. While she says she's planning on living at least another 35 years, she wants to make sure we use the right pictures – just in case. God love her.

If you're older and you have the financial resources to do so, it would be a good idea to visit a funeral home to pre-plan your funeral. That way there's no question as to what you want and is also less stressful for your survivors because they're not forced to make decisions in a highly emotional state. While people are living longer, unless you have a terminal disease, you never know when your time is going to run out and it's better to be prepared. Hate to say it, but if you're over the age of 60 you may want to look into your final arrangements.

Detail Your Accounts

Have a printed list of accounts with usernames and passwords printed and available. You can put the list in a safe deposit box (that someone your trust can access); in a safe that someone you trust knows the combination to; or even in a “hidden” folder in your files (probably not the best idea) or in a location where it will be found when family is going through your belongings. And make sure someone knows the passcode to your phone. My father-in-law's smart phone was passcode locked and no one in the family was able to unlock it. If you use a password on your computer, make sure a loved one has access to it as well.

Make sure your vital records are easy to access as they will be needed for making final arrangements.

Share and Save Memories

My wife was fortunate to have had a number of saved voicemail messages from her Dad, so she can go back and listen to those messages and hear his voice whenever she wants. Technology has made it easier than ever to save things for posterity. Call your kids and leave them a voicemail telling them that you love them. Use Evernote to keep a digital scrapbook of your life. If you don't want to leave a sappy voicemail, you can save a voice memo or two or three that people can access. Keep a journal and detail important things that you remember about your life's encounters that people will be able to access in time.

Conclusion

Dying sucks for the living. But with a little preparation, morbid as it may be, life for the living will be a lot easier in the long run and you'll be able to rest knowing that your affairs were in order.

Disclaimer

I'm not an attorney and the laws and requirements for your estate will depend on where you reside. Accounts and assets may be subject to probate which could take months or years to reconcile. Again, another reason to have your wishes in detailed in writing. For questions regarding your own unique situation, please consult with an estate or probate attorney. This post was written as a resource for those going through the loss of a loved one and isn't meant as an exhaustive guide to dealing with the passing of a loved one. It's meant to start a conversation to make things easier for those who are left to deal with a loss.

Disclosure of Material Connection

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a modest commission from the sale. These links help support the maintenance of this website.


Please be advised that I only recommend products or services that I have used or tried personally and believe will add value to my readers' lives. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”