I think everyone wants their lives to matter. Yet it will be others who will be the judge of that. In my view, the most important legacy over which you do have control, is this: You don’t have to leave a mess for those who will survive you.
OMG, that means talking about death.
(As a personal note, my own mother started her preparations after the death of my father, actually 20 years before she died. Each of her 6 children had been part of the conversations. She carried it out with perfection. It was the life legacy for which I feel most gratitude….and I intend to pass it on.)
If you share this intention for an orderly transfer of your assets, treasures and wisdom, and appropriate care as you age, you can start preparing today to leave your affairs in order. You can indicate to your family what kind of death you hope to have. Although not everyone is initially happy to join this conversation, they will ultimately benefit from it. Ask for help. There are a myriad of options and resources that exist.
Make your wishes known and keep an open mind. Your family members may have concerns of which you are unaware. Sooner is better than later. Unfortunately too many discover that the ICU at the hospital is not the place to have these discussions. Above all, be accountable to what you are really wanting, in a gentle and persistent manner. It is your life and your death.
Here’s a way to start.
- Dare to start talking about your inevitable death. In my opinion it really tends to focus your fuller “living.”
- Speak to your doctor and an elder lawyer for the advance directives and the other legalities.
- Books abound… check libraries, churches and councils of aging. For an organizing list, get Kicking the Bucket List: 100 Downsizing & Organizing Things to Do Before You Die, by Gail Rubin.
- Possibly most important is to legally arrange for a health care proxy who can advocate for your treatment wishes, if you are unable to do so. Check out a powerful resource in Massachusetts with many free and downloadable resources: Honoring Choices.