Donnie and I have been talking a lot about death. Partly because we now have an adult child, so we have to revisit a lot of the decisions we had made previously regarding “worst case scenario” – seeing both of us either dead or incapacitated. But this suddenly feels more urgent to me in the wake of that terrible limo accident 2 weeks ago where several sets of parents were killed.
As we work through a lot of the legal and personal details of our end-of-life wishes, it has me wanting to pool my friends online and off, what would you do differently? Have you seen any post-death complications that could have been remedied with early planning? Everything from needing multiple copies of keys and knowing passwords to beneficiaries being updated on life insurances. Have you learned any lessons you wouldn’t mind sharing?
Because we’ve realized it’s more than just, “Who takes care of the kids if we die?” question. We also have decided we need to do more to make official our “plans” or “wants” after our death. We’ve always been really blasé about it, simply saying things like, “I don’t care…just cremate me or something.” The problem is, if one of us dies, the other person is NOT going to want to figure out the “or something” while also grieving so it’s easier on them if it’s clearly defined. So we’re thinking about things like, What does a memorial service look like for the non-religious? Or even practical things like, Where does it happen? And then finally, the part we hadn’t really considered until recently…Should we warn all of our religious family that there will be no god at our funerals? I mean, death is terrible and tragic but – for the believers – there is a lot of peace and hope in the afterlife and the acknowledgement of that, will our loved ones who are religious care that we’re having a secular service?
Practically speaking, we won’t be around in our own death to see any fallout, but I honestly don’t know if a non-religious ceremony would upset anyone. I mean, if we officially document our wishes there won’t be any arguments, but will people be upset? Do you talk about these things in advance just in case? So that no one is shocked or confused when there’s no religious service? How much do you let people know your wishes when the chances are pretty good they won’t need to know them. Do we wait and save those conversations for people outside our nuclear family for eventual illness diagnosis or something? When – if ever – do you discuss things outside of your marriage and children?
We are making this a priority in the next few weeks and I was wanting to go into it armed with as many experiences from others as I can get. We don’t talk about death enough in our society, so there’s a lot of things I may need to know that I don’t and if tragedy occurs, I’d rather not have to learn in the moment.