I’m only 32 years old, so preparing for death should be the very last thing I’m thinking about. While it isn’t the most pleasant of things to prepare for, it’s inevitable. Hopefully, death won’t knock on my door for many, many years to come, but the most important lesson I’ve learned in life is tomorrow is not promised to anyone.
In August of 2013, I landed in the hospital with metabolic acidosis and went through a long series of medical problems. Earlier that year, I stood in the ICU as an old friend just four days younger than me passed away. It was time to realize that I was not going to live forever. That’s when I started a folder on the desktop of my computer entitled In the Event of My Death.
Unfortunately, my computer crashed and I didn’t have the folder backed up. Now, here I am, preparing for death again.
If you mention to anyone that you’re preparing for your death, you may be asked questions like, are you okay? do you need to talk to someone? did you take your medication today? Before you flood my inbox with questions about the state of my mental health, please know I’m not expecting to die tomorrow. Just like the file name implies, in the event of my death, there are things I want to assure are taken care of and the age of 32 is not too soon to be thinking about it.
When I was a Hospice volunteer, I worked with a young woman who had children she was leaving behind. She had an amazing spirit and left behind so many treasures and keepsakes for her little ones as they grew up without her. Working with her had me thinking about the legacy I want to leave behind.
There isn’t a right or wrong way to put this together, but I think it’s something important to do. Heaven forbid I keel over unexpectedly, I want to make sure that if it happens, no one is left with a burden I could have eased. Here are a few things I’m including in my death prep files:
Everyone should have final wishes they want carried out. As far as a funeral goes, I won’t be there. Whatever my family and friends need to do for a funeral is up to them. I love music, so I’ll include a few of my favorite songs and maybe give some ideas. Ultimately, it’s whatever they want.
I do, however, know that I don’t want to take up any space on this earth, so my request to be cremated and have my ashes spread somewhere is one I hope is granted. There is only so much earth to go around and we cannot all have a chunk of it. No cemetery stone, either.
In high school, I took a journalism class and they had us write our own obituary. Just like a résumé, this is something some people keep on file and continue updating. It helps the family have one less thing to come up with.
Some people I have talked to say they found writing their loved one’s obituary therapeutic during the grieving process. Still, it may help to just bullet the main points.
As long as I’m on the subject of the obituary, the photograph needs to be a good one. I’m a goofy gal with a sense of humor, so nothing stoic. Either one of these will work just fine:
When preparing for death, who thinks about their online accounts? Have you ever wondered what happens to these accounts when someone dies? They don’t just go away. With my blog, music, and photography, I have a lot of space taken up in the Internet world. I have a complete file of all of my online accounts and passwords. I should also include a pretty hefty check in there for whoever gets the task of going through and deleting my social media and online presence.
This is also where I have all the information on my bank accounts, retirement information, and other miscellaneous things my family wouldn’t know. Like my post office box and a storage unit.
At some point, I’ll have an official will and information for that will also go in here. I’d probably have to have some stuff to give away to put that together, though.
I have enough life insurance to cover any funeral-related expenses and then some. Everyone should have this. A funeral can exceed $10,000 and I don’t want anyone having to dish that out. I also have it clearly stated I want the funeral to be as inexpensive as possible and the remaining money should be used to send the niece and nephews to Disney World.
I’m a very sentimental person. I love keepsakes. I’ve been writing for many years and I hope my journals are something people look back on when I’m gone. With that in mind, I have changed the way I journal. I want my writing to be a piece of my legacy. I plan to blog more on this subject, by the way.
“The Junk Drawer”
Last, but not least, I’m a bit quirky. I want everyone to know that I enjoyed my time here. (All 107 years of it, I hope.) I want a “junk drawer” for people to enjoy going through after I’m gone. If it’s a real drawer, there’s silly string, wind-up walking teeth, laughing stress balls, the stinky pig game, joke books, and random gadgets that made me laugh. If it’s a file in my In the Event of My Death folder, it’s going to include the list of my favorite YouTube videos, goofy pictures and selfies I’ve taken.
As I continue putting this all back together, I am sure I’ll be making changes and finding other things I forgot to include. This is a post I may have to revisit.
Hopefully this post wasn’t as morbid as the title implied.