In The Austere Academy volume of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Latin phrase “Momento Mori” is inscribed over the gates of Prufrock Preparatory School.
The phrase means, “remember you will die”. It seems morbid for a children’s school. I know, it’s a downer especially for a Monday, but it felt important to bring up because of something that happened recently to me.
I’ve been dealing with the unexpected death of a loved one. Affairs were not in order. Everything has been complicated and very stressful (like I didn’t already have enough stress to give me shingles). Life is short. Death is inevitable and it doesn’t always happen when or how we plan.
Here’s my message to you: an accident can happen at any time. If you don’t designate who you want making decisions for you, someone might be selected that won’t best represent your wishes. Especially if you know you have differences of opinion regarding religion or sexuality please keep this in mind.
Here’s looking at you, my friends who are ex-JWs or trans/enby especially. Your closest blood relatives may not know your wishes, might have different values surrounding healthcare, or not be able to be as diligent as needed due to time/money/their own issues.
I’ve read younger people often skip living wills because they don’t think anything will happen, but precisely because they aren’t in age to contemplate declining health many don’t have living wills.
Also – please make sure this information is accessible. If no one can find your will, it can’t be followed. Don’t count on an attorney’s office to keep a copy indefinitely. If you put things in a safety deposit box, make sure someone knows where the box is and how to access it.
Where you live there may not be the same standards for living wills, etc. as other places. In some places a form from a book might work. In other places that’s not acceptable.
Here are free forms online – just select your state.
Please remember- if you need something notarized banks will often do this for free for their customers. Otherwise there are many public notaries who can assist you for a small fee.
Do you know the difference between a living will, testamentory will, and a living trust? (Click here for more info.)
What about the difference between a healthcare power of attorney, proxy, and surrogate? Did you know it can/probably should be more than one person? (Click here for more info.)
One last point – an older lady was telling me recently that she has her medications list on the fridge and pre-need arrangements for funeral services set up, but she worries her kids won’t remember these things if needed. She mentioned to me how important it is to take the time to talk about these things with our loved ones.
If you have a smart phone, I encourage you to take the time to not only set up Emergency Contacts in your phone, but also to fill out health information and check it regularly. If you don’t have a smartphone, please maybe put this info in your wallet on a small card. The person whose estate I’m dealing with did not have this info filled out, and that meant the hospital did not know about a serious condition. One Pin I saw a while back suggested writing In Case of Emergency info in Sharpie on a carrier car seat so that if there was an accident and a paramedic pulled the baby carrier out, they would have the info there.
Along with thinking about what people want for the end of their life, it’s also important to think about what we want to happen with our bodies. Do you want to be an organ donor? Buried? Cremated? An eco-friendly option if available where you live? If you’re cremated, then what do you want to happen with your ashes? Do you want to be scattered? Turned into a gem? Made into coral reef? These are also hard decisions for your loved ones.
I’ve avoided making a living will out of laziness and doing some of these things myself, but … I plan on not only taking care of these things with my husband but making sure we talk about these things with our parents and note the information: I’ve had these conversations with my mother, but what if my memory fails me in a time of stress?
Life is precious, brief, and not guaranteed. I hope we will all take time to have important conversations with our loved ones and think about what we want for ourselves.
If you don’t have your affairs in order, please think about it.
Please talk with your loved ones so you know what they want.
If you do have your affairs in order but it’s been 5+ years, please make sure they’re still accurate.