Thursday, July 25, 2019

Preparing for Peace in Death

The fall is my favorite time of year but it is also one of the hardest and saddest times of the year for me. I lost both my mother and sister in the fall. Obviously, I have lots of reasons to think of them throughout the year but inevitably it is the fall that I am bombarded with grief.

They were both too young. My mother at 61, my sister at 39, we lost them 5 years apart. I also lost my 3 remaining grandparents during that time too. In reality, you know that if you haven’t dealt this closely with death yet it’ll come too soon.

As I’ve grieved and mourned with others and for my own family, this has been on my mind to share for a long time. Like the title states, I feel it is important to prepare for peace in death--but, I think it’s JUST as important for those of us left behind to prepare for that peace as well. If we’re able to best help those that pass away, we will feel that greater peace.

Have the hard conversations before they get harder. (If possible have them while your parents are healthy, while you are healthy, while your spouse is healthy.)  Have the hard conversations now before you’re left wondering your what if’s.

“The most reliable way to know 
people’s priorities is just to ask.”
-Atul Gawande

In preparing for death:

Do you know what your parents want? Do you know what your siblings want? Do you know what your spouse wants? Do you know what you’d want?

Start the conversation!

There are blogs, videos, websites, articles, books, and much more available. Don’t get overwhelmed but find a tool and use it as a jumping point to do something.

Personal items:
        -write your wishes if you don’t want to get official just yet (something is better than nothing). Do you have specific funeral program wishes, casket type ideas, location of burial, end of life care plans (hospice? visitors you’d like/allow? etc)
        -then share your wishes with a loved one
        -how would you like to be remembered
        -memories, stories, photos, etc you’d like others to remember, know and have (write them down) and/or audio or video yourself telling stories and/or sharing memories.
        -passwords (believe me, they’ll appreciate it)

Official items:
        -living will (advance directive)
        -healthcare proxy
        -organ donation
        -estate planning

Several years ago for one of my bookclubs we read Being Mortal. I had just lost my mom and my sister had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I resonated with this book because there were many things we knew my mom wanted and a few that we didn't but for me, and I believe for the rest of my family, we honored my mom in the best ways we could. And truly I think that's what we all want for our loved ones.

 Here’s just a bit about this book:


Have you had experience with this? 
What suggestions would you give to others?


Alysa Stewart said...

I also read Being Mortal for a book club. Highly recommend it. Another book that made me have a conversation with my parents about death was "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant" by Roz Chast.

Kristie said...

So I lost my brother at 16, about 7 years ago. And my parents decided we all needed to be involved in the decisions about his headstone. I didn't care much at all. But it was a lot of communication about what we wanted. So after that I told my parents they needed to decide what they wanted for themselves, as I didn't want to have to figure it out with my siblings. It was a headache. And while it hasn't happened yet, this is a good reminder for me to ask them to figure it out sooner rather than later. The other interesting thing about my brothers death was learning how each of us in the family deals with grief. I do things very differently than my siblings. And giving each other some grace/understanding during the hard times can make all the difference.

Cranberryfries said...

Alyssa, thanks for the book rec! They're really is so much out there to help us get started.

Cranberryfries said...

Kristie thanks for your comment! It's so true how we reach deal with grief differently!! Even within the same family. What a great suggestion /reminder to give everyone grace and understanding. We're all trying to navigate through this unknown (and each death is different!).