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: Leave no 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 out her “no mess intentions” with perfection. After her death, all we needed to do was clean out her studio apartment, and celebrate her life. 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, 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 are ways to start.
- Dare to start talking about your inevitable death. Learn about and appoint a health care agent (proxy) to be sure that your end-of-life choices will be honored.
- 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.
- Go to The Conversation Project, and get a free starter kit for conversations with self and others about planning well, whether you are still in third chapter mode, or especially if you are inhabiting your fourth and final chapter of life. For short ABC video of a family orchestrating their conversation, click here.