Seniors: Making Your Final Plans for Death

Nov 19th, 2010 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

This is a subject we have visited before.  One of my dear friends, having read my column on preparations for death sometime ago, questioned the wisdom of having addressed this subject  so early in SCJ’s history.  It did not “kill” us.  We are still here some almost 1000 articles and thousands of visitors  later.  So, we have come back to this subject, which, by its definition, is not one many enjoy approaching.  However, eventually, approach it we must.  A number of authors have helped to make edging up to this subject somewhat more palatable.  Some religious or spiritual traditions have begun bringing the  matter out in the open for appraisal and deliberation. 

Our pastor recently preached a series of sermons on “How to be a Good Dead Person.”  An article, based on that series, has appeared here recently (10/18/10).  You might want to look it up.  So it is possible to wade into the subject, with help from others, insights which may stimulate courage and readiness to explore the issue.  Doing so will insure and assure your having made the preparations that will be required for you or someone in your circle to address.

Death and loss is one of life’s dramatic realities.  Delaying, denying, procrastinating will not change the inevitability that comes at death.  May sound harsh, but it is more difficult to have to deal with loss without the support and help of others.  Facing the many factors involved in death and dying will likely introduce well thought through considerations and less troubling determinations.  Once done, the sensation of being able to declare “well, that’s over,”  will be a moment of remarkable relief.

Approaching the Subject:  First, there must be a willingness on the part of the participants to approach the subject.  Calculating a way to introduce the conversation, coming up with an idea which will assist the comfort of those involved, and keeping the discussion light enough, but pointed enough, to get somewhere will be the first item of business. 

Advancing to the Issues:  Getting to the issues will be relatively easy after having established that the discussion can go forward.  Issues include: What Preparations Involving Financial, Legal and Other Matters Need to Be Made?  Should I have a Will ? Where are My Papers Kept?  Do I Have a Living Will i.e. Advanced Directive?   How Do I Want to Be Remembered? What Will be My Legacy?  Do I Want to Be Buried or Cremated?  What Are My Preferences for a Service? 

Identifying Persons to Help:  Who Should Be Notified and in What Order? Who, within the family, Will Be Charged with Leading Off and Taking Necessary Initiatives?  This is a very sensitive, but necessary matter.  Someone needs to be able to guide the family in addressing all the issues which will arise.  The more the particulars have been addressed in advance,  the easier it will be for any arrangements to be made.  If there is to be a religious professional participating, if possible identify that person by name.  If not, designate the religious persuasion of preference.  If there is to be a fraternal order or veteran’s participation and recognition, so identify.  If there are to be others a part of the service, identify who they are and how to reach them.  This will include former colleagues, friends, family members.  What is the preferred location of a service?  What Mortician will be involved?  Is there a pre-need agreement? 

Cataloging All the Information:  Once all the issues, these and others, have been identified, be sure a record, with duplicate copies, is made.   Persons who have copies should be aware of others who have been given a copy as well.  Periodically, review the contents.   Determine what information is outdated and needs revising or correcting.  Be sure everyone who has a copy is kept current.

While you are on the subject, with others in your family, encourage family members to consider their own exercise in preparing for death.  In order to achieve being a good dead person, it means you were also good at doing the things that need doing while you are alive.



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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sharon Shaw Elrod, AlzDallas. AlzDallas said: #seniorcitizen Seniors: Making Your Final Plans for Death: This is a subject we have visited before. One of my … http://bit.ly/bkqOXi [...]

  2. [...] all the issues which pertain to your death will be in the best interest of everyone involved.  Keeping those current and being up front with family and/or others will be necessary.   Believing or acting as if you are not going to die means that [...]

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