Mukesh Dedhia, Financial Chronicle 12/1/2012
None of us want to think about dying, but death will happen to all of us sooner or later. For most of us, the concept of ‘later’ often results in many of us putting off decisions or expressing last wishes that really should be discussed now. Planning for your death now, saves a bereaved family from having to second guess your intent.
Thinking about death can be frightening, no matter your age or medical condition. As we get older, the reality of our own mortality tends to come into clearer focus. This doesn’t make talking about death or life-sustaining treatments any less frightening though. We live in an age of planning where we plan everything from what to eat for lunch to where to go on the weekend. So, why do we find planning for our death so difficult?
There are good reasons to break the taboo and not only think about our death, but also discuss it with the closest people, because there are important decisions to be made in advance. For example: We may have an idea about how we would like our funeral to be arranged. We might have views whether we would prefer to die at home or in hospital.
We would probably wish to have time to spend with family and friends and to have an assurance that our final hours will be comfortable. We would probably also want to leave our affairs in good order, and be confident, that our friends and family are left with good memories. As hard as it may be to face the inevitability of our death, it can be valuable and reassuring.
For some reason, death frequently brings out the worst in people. It is supposed to be a time of closure, of respect and remembrance, but it quickly can turn into a huge family feud over everything from how you will be buried to where and when.
For people with reasonable assets in their name, dying without leaving a ‘will’ may cause problems for surviving relatives; often needing lawyers to sort them out. Start by making a list of all your possessions and the people or charities you want to provide for, including any property you may wish to divide in a certain way. A ‘will’ can also name guardians for any dependent children, and record your wish to leave money or property in trust for children or grandchildren. When changes, such as divorce or a new addition to the family, happen in life, the ‘will’ should be adjusted.
Often when someone dies, there is an opportunity to save someone else’s life by making a body or artificial body part donation. Many bereaved families take comfort in the knowledge that the death of their loved one has helped others to live. This is an opportunity to change someone else’s life by giving the gift of life. Others have taken another route and chosen to give for medical education or research. This is a very personal decision. Take some time and feel free to discuss it with your family, religious leader or friends.
Many of us wish we had talked more to a parent, friend or colleague who has died, to have said “Thank you, you were so important” or “Don’t worry, it didn’t matter” or to have heard the same from them. It is recognised that unfinished business can cause physical as well as emotional pain that can linger for years. It is sad to lose someone to death, but it’s even more saddening to lose someone to life. So, its better to say “Sorry” today, rather than wait for the last moment.
For many people there is a spiritual aspect to approaching death that may be beyond religion. Questions such as, “Why this is happening to me?”, “What was my life about?”, “Who am I?” and “What is going to happen next?”, go to the limit of our understanding and our ultimate spiritual concerns.
Silence itself may be one of the best ways of communicating spiritual concerns, whether it is by sharing silent contemplation or meditation or just being with someone, holding their hand and perhaps holding their gaze.
Putting your affairs in order:
This isn’t about having tidy files; it’s also about leaving instructions on where everything is kept. This will save your family having to search through piles of papers to find the information they need at a time of great stress.
The instructions could include:
>Details of your bank, building society, credit cards, pension, tax district and any other financial contacts.
>Telephone numbers and addresses of close and distant friends, family and colleagues.
>Where you keep documents such as your passport, house deeds, insurance, life and other policies, mortgage and hire purchase agreements, birth and marriage certificates as well as items like car and house keys.
Many times death happens before we are prepared for it and our loved ones are not only forced with the shock of our early demise but also with the costs involved. No matter what age you are, you should be prepared for your death. No one is born knowing the exact time and date that they will leave this earth and avoiding that it is going to happen is putting an unneeded burden on your loved ones.
No one can escape the pain of bereavement, but a good death can become the ultimate celebration of a good life.
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