Doing end-of-life preparation can be daunting. There seem to be so many forms, too many different options, and endless decisions to be making. No wonder why so many folks put it off and never get around to it!
Just like a handwritten will can be legal (with some caveats), funeral and deathcare planning doesn’t need to be big and hairy and scary. Even giving your loved ones just a short nudge in the direction they should go when it comes to the funeral process is a gift. Letting them know simply that you’d prefer to be cremated, but leaving the ideas about what to do with your ashes up to them, or sharing that you’d value saving money on the arrangements over traditional choices–these can be enough to go on for your family to make the right choices for them and you.
When you work with me, we’ll go deeper than that, and I hope it’ll be fun (and not painful) in the process, but do take this to heart: Anything helps. Anything you can do helps.
See how simply and elegantly Betty from Mad Men, dying of breast cancer, handled passing on her own wishes, and sidestepped a conversation she knew her husband couldn’t handle too:
Betty: These are instructions. Open it the minute you know I’m gone.
Betty: Listen to me, things happen very quickly when people die. Henry’s not going to be able to handle things.
I know that you’re frightened and there are many decisions I can’t prepare you for, but you must immediately tell the hospital and the funeral director that I am to be interred, in tact, in the family plot in West Laurel.
Uncle William has the details from Grandpa Gene’s burial. I’ve also enclosed a portrait from the 1968 Republican Winter Gala. The blue chiffon I wore is my very favorite. I hung it in a gold garment bag in the hall closet beside the mink. Please bring them the lipstick from my handbag and remind them how I like to wear my hair. Will you show them the picture?
Sally, I always worried about you because you marched to beat of your own drum, but now I know that’s good. I know your life will be an adventure.
I Love You,
Of course, Betty has the benefit of knowing she’s dying, and can line all this up and share it (I’m not sure she, or anyone dying, would call that a benefit, truly–but for planning sake, it certainly can compel you to action!). You too are dying, as am I, though, even if we won’t admit it to ourselves. Isn’t it time to think about documenting your wishes and getting your plans (simple or otherwise) in order?
HT: I first became aware of this touching exchange on Everplans’ blog. If you’re inclined to DIY your end of life plans, Everplans is a great place to document your wishes! Check them out…