Friday, March 27, 2015

Planning Your Death

Previously, I've opined the merit of contemplating the ramifications of our death. The likelihood that ones existence will end at that moment is so compelling it can inspire us to live the remainder of our lives with extra joyful zing.  Alongside such personal revelation, there is a practical side to planning for our death and although such preparation can bit macabre at a level, it can also enhance our acceptance of our passing, ease the pain and stress of the physical downward spiral, and importantly enable our ability to implement a legacy of kindness once we are gone.

Live Long with Laughter?
At first blush, confronting the tasks needed to ensure as good a death as possible might seem to require the detached mindset that only a bean-counting engineer could muster.  Perhaps, there is an aspect of truth to that, just as disposing of ones toenail clippings in a suitable trash receptacle using sterile nail scissors requires an informed disposition.  Without preparation, dying and death itself can become a truly traumatic affair for both the individual and their circle of loved ones.  On the other hand, with responsible, caring foresight the death transition can minimize unnecessary grief and pain and maximize the effective hand-off of influence and compassion post mortem.

As in so many other aspects of life, effective communication is paramount in planning for ones death. To this ends, it is our responsibility to reach out to the persons closest to you for a conversation about the emotional nuances and the physical tasks that will be involved.  No blog post, mortician pamphlet, or solitary brainstorm can flesh out the details better than a heartfelt, open-ended discussion.  Laughter and tears may very well be part of this, and perhaps will serve as your first coping mechanism to staring down Mr. G. Reaper.

In your discussions you'll want to touch on all the physical, emotional and financial facets involved in deathly transition.  Consult a checklist like OK to Die (The Preparing for Death Checklist) to ensure you cover all the bases.  What is important to someone will vary widely and be affected by their world view, personality, and financial state of affairs.  Importantly, you'll want to create legal documents like a living will and a power of attorney.  Legal Depot (Free Legal Documents) is one source that provides template documents that you can customize for your locale and situation.  I was able to write mine up and get them notarized for about $20. If your estate or wishes are more complicated, by all means consult a lawyer to construct these documents.

Whatever you specify, be sure the person you provide power of attorney to is well informed of your desires.  From advance directive DNR particulars to environmentally green burials or a memorial service that meets your spiritual and musical wants, the surest way to ensure they are implemented effectively is to have someone you depend on advocating for you.  Passing on gifts to those you care about or donations to organizations that you feel are worthy is another way to help your legacy serve positively in the world you've handed off to the next generation.

This post is not meant to provide a complete blue-print to the proverbial coffin.  In fact you may already have a plan at the ready.  Still whether it's a good time for an annual review and update of your final directives consider setting aside some time to develop a plan for the inevitable end-of-life cycle.  The people you care most for will appreciate you all the more when they must face the resulting sadness of your passing, the well crafted punctuation point you planned for as a part of a life that celebrated living!

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