Thursday, March 12, 2009

What Are You Planning?

Have you thought about your death?

How old will you be? How will it happen? Will it be sudden? Will it be a long, drawn out illness? Will it happen when your children are young or will they be older and taking care of you? Will you die at home, on a trip, in the hospital or in a nursing home? Will you predecease your spouse? What happens if you’re in a coma? Who will make the decisions for you? Will they make the decisions you would have liked them to make? Will you have a will? Who will you leave things too? Will you leave it to the state to decide the fate of your estate, family and pets? Are you still reading this, or are you saying, “Oh no, I’m not going there.”?

There seem to be two different ways of thinking on this. You might be the kind of person who has no trouble thinking about life and death, is quite practical, has everything organized and decided, right down to the last detail of your funeral and burial. Or you may be the kind of person that feels extremely uncomfortable thinking about your mortality and would rather have your fingernails pulled out than make a plan for your care if you became incapacitated, make a will or think about your funeral.

What about your obituary? Surely you’ve taken a peek to see who died, how they died, how old they were. Recently I saw two women’s obituaries. They both wrote them before they died. One was quite elaborate, stating all of her accomplishments, her awards, her education, and her charitable contributions throughout her life. It was probably one of the longest obits I have ever read. But, that was what she wanted and she wasn’t going to leave it to others to do it after the fact. The second one was very short and sweet, but no less powerful. She stated that all who knew her knew what she did in her life and those who didn’t know her wouldn’t care. She further stated that she wished to have no viewing, funeral or memorial. She had control of her life all the way through to the end.

Control! We have none! We think we do, we try to have it – but when it really counts, we have no control over death. Life takes many twists and turns that we don’t expect nor even want at times, yet there it is. So the best way to take control of the uncontrollable is to be proactive. Make your plans as best you can, while you can. Don’t be afraid. Think about the future and what it may hold. What do you want?

Have you ever been to a funeral or memorial and wondered what yours would be like? Would there be that many people? Who would do the eulogy and what would they say? What kind of music would they play? Would there be a lot of flowers, or would there be a lack of flowers due to donations made in your honor? These are the things we can have control over – NOW. Of course you can take care of all of this in your will or advanced directive, but there is a really great document called “Five Wishes” and it’s a very easy to read and complete form that will let others know how you want to be taken care of in case you can no longer speak for yourself. It further goes on to let others know how you want your arrangements in the event of your death, right down to the kind of music you want played, who will do your eulogy, what you want people to know about you and whether to have flowers or donations.

So what are you planning?

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