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What you need to do!

In another blog I wrote about how challenged we are with regards to supporting someone when they are faced with a death at this time.  In normal times it is never easy, and right now this is unprecedented.

When the news broke about this virus, it was in a distant country.  As it came closer, we might have felt very conflicted that we had felt a tinge of relief that it was mainly the elderly or those with underlying health issues who were impacted (that is of course if we are not in that category).  This relief would have been mixed with guilt and fear. 

Our instinct to protect those we love kicked in.  Shockingly, to force elderly relatives to stay indoors for their own good.  Also, for our good too. 

We expect to be with a loved one when they are close to death. To be able to hold their hand and say our goodbyes.

Maybe to have that conversation that we have put off and think we will still have time to have.
To be able to hug someone to show our condolences. 
To attend the funeral. 
To follow the social norms.

As the stories have emerged of being unable to be with loved ones as they die from this horrendous virus, has jolted us.

Those dying are not just the elderly or vulnerable, but the young and fit, and those health workers who are trying to save our loved ones. It can be quite paralysing. It has made me feel impotent.

So, think the unthinkable, what if it did happen to you, are you prepared?

If someone is ill, they may have time to put their affairs in order and say their goodbyes.

The stress of dealing with a will, contacting organisations who need to be told, and all the other tasks that are needed when someone dies is very challenging.  

What if that death is unexpected and the person hasn’t put their affairs in order?  How much more stressful is that to the family and friends left behind. 

Of course, you might not want to face the fact that you will die, and put it off, and if this is you, have you thought about the impact on those left behind?  Do you care?  

Dealing with the grief of loss can be paralysing but add to that trying to deal with someone’s affairs compounds the process.  The bank account that pays all the bills, maybe frozen.   

This all adds to an increase in anger, bitterness, sadness, and a whole host of emotions.   That is the legacy.

So, here is my challenge to you. 

Do your friends and family know what to do with your affairs?

If they don’t know, then you have no comeback if they do 'stuff' you might not have wanted!! Yes, I know you are dead so what does it matter now?   Do you want to be remembered for easing the burden or causing untold stress?

Here’s my checklist. 

It might help to enable a conversation to happen or easier to write a letter that makes it clear what you do want.  None of us really want to face our impending death, especially if it feels too soon.  I do feel we have a duty to help those left behind to have as easy a time as possible.

  1. A Will – if you die without one, then someone you might not want may get your money. Or the government! The legal costs of sorting out an interstate will be significant and it takes a significant amount of time. The hassle for family members intolerable.
  2. Power of Attorney – enabling someone to make decisions in the event I am no longer able too. I have chosen a good friend, not a family member.  Someone who is sensible and will make the right decisions.  I am hers.
  3. Personal Effects – things maybe valuable to you for sentimental reasons. Who do you want to have what? Or should it all go to a charity and if so, which one?  If you are a cat lover, do you want the local dog home to get it?
  4. Documentation – is it all in one place and easy to access? Does someone know where it is? Details of bank accounts, insurances, pensions.
  5. Smartphone and Laptops – I have thousands of family photos backed up on my iCloud and on my phone.  I have created a private letter to a trustworthy friend that gives her my pin code to my iPhone and laptop passwords. She has permission to post a notice on my Facebook, linked in and other social media of my demise.
  6. Private Journals – I have some of these and wouldn’t want others to read them. I still use them for reference. I would want these burnt. 
  7. My Body -  I want every part of my body to go to medical research or organ donation. I know that, but does my family? Anything left should be cremated and I would like the ashes to be  thrown off a local pier that had many childhood memories. 
  8. Funeral – do you want to be buried or cremated? I want the cheapest possible. A card board box is sufficient. In fact I don’t even need there to be a funeral. I would hate there to be a wake! I mean missing a good party would really annoy me... Let my friends raise a glass and wish me well.
  9. Flowers – I don’t want any. I would like any donations to go to trees being planted anywhere in the world. 

And finally,

So if you are still reading this blog, you maybe confronted with a range of emotions now.

Like me you may procrastinate. I would like to encourage you that this is one area you shouldn’t. 

You owe it to yourself and at this time it is one gift that whilst your family may not want any time soon, they will thank you for someday.


Thank you to Barbara for a timely kick... Sometimes we need to toughen up and do the right thing - these are tough conversations but they need to be had.

  With love, Lynda

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