Forgive me if this seems maudlin. Nobody enjoys thinking about his death, let alone documenting every wish.
Just the same, moments ago I finished doing that very thing in a letter to my wife. I plan on giving it to her on Monday morning just before they wheel me away for “Operation Robojaw.”
Let’s face it. Nobody’s next second, let alone day is guaranteed. Pushing 64 years of age with an eight hour procedure ahead of me means I’d better go here.
My main motivation? Loving my bride well. Perish the thought, but she will have her hands full with grief. Why further jeopardize her shalom by failing to take responsibility for this myself?
Here are five things you can do in advance of your earthly demise to guard the shalom of the household you leave behind:
- Prepare a living will. What in the world are you waiting for? This one is a no brainer.
- Specify what you want done with your remains: burial, cremation, cryogenic freezing. Whatever. For a decent treatment of the burial vs. cremation question check out Cremation Confusion.
- Write your spouse a letter to be opened only on the occasion of your passing. Warning. Should you do this and I hope you will sooner rather than later, keep the tissues nearby. Tears will come.
- Tell your beloved the best of your heart’s affection. Then get after the business of detailing what you want done with your most important stuff. My list turned out pretty short. You know what they say: you can’t take it with you.
- Write out a draft order of worship for your memorial service. My document runs from prelude to postlude. It contains the songs I want sung, the people I want to speak, the music I want played and the players to play it. I am a demanding so-and-so. I have even given Nancy instructions for a memorial fund in lieu of flowers.
- Get the thing witnessed and notarized. Don’t leave any doubt as to the legitimacy of the document.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a death wish. But I do resonate with Paul when he writes, “I am hard pressed between the two–depart to be with Christ or remain in the flesh (Phil. 1:21-24). I get it. When it’s my time–precious in God’s sight as it is (Psalm 116:15)–I’m the only one to gain.
I fully expect to survive. Lord willing, “Operation Robojaw” will be a smashing success. If not, I’ve got peace that I’ve done my part to help guard the peace of the one for whom I care the most.
Question: What have I missed? Can you think of any other helpful items to add to my list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
You’ve certainly got me thinking, brother!
That’s what I want to hear even from young bucks like you. Thanks for your comment, master intern!
One other bit of advice: Don’t leave anything you would be embarrassed for your spouse or children to see such as old ratty underwear, meds or toiletries you might not want them to view.
Never thought of that, Barb. Thanks for your comment.
Brilliant post, and one I plan to share with those whom I advise on estate planning issues.
Maybe the most obvious thing you left out was a Last Will & Testament, and in addition to a Living Will (some states refer to this as a Declaration of a Desire for Natural Death) there are a couple more legal documents which should be drafted, which are a Durable Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. Neither of these matter at all once you are completely in glory, but these days it seems more and more people spend their last days in a state of diminished consciousness.
I recall memorizing John chapter 14 to recite for you the first time my heart was troubled with the thought of your passing, and I am most grateful that God has assigned your length of days as far as he has.
Pingback: A VIEW FROM THE HOSPITAL « Curt Heffelfinger
Great comment, John. Thanks for contributing to the issue and, yet another time, luring me into the world of blogging.