Reality check: Live prepared with your eyes wide
Last week I helped a family bury a woman who was a mother, wife, grandmother, friend, matchmaker and so much more. She was tragically taken from this world in an automobile accident. This week we all watched in horror as the devastating power of nature destroyed a town in Oklahoma and claimed the lives of 24 people. Though most of us do our very best to avoid the thought – instead thinking we’re healthy, we’re young, we’re safe – the reality is that there really is only one possible outcome of this life. And we have very little control over when it may come.
I read a blog entry this morning on The Order of the Good Death in which the writer congratulated all readers on “being good at not dying.” When you think about the fragile wonder of our existence, that statement is actually pretty poignant. From the miracle of our complex bodies keeping our hearts pumping to our survival of our daily commute each day – reaching our pillow each evening intact is really an enormous success. And while it may seem too depressing to dwell on the fact that we will all one day cease to be, dealing with the reality of this fact is a part of life. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it will help you to embrace the time you do have, and enjoy living your life without fear.
While facing your mortality is something you’ll have to do continuously (we humans are so good at creating distractions to help us forget and avoid our impermanence), planning for it is something you will only have to do once. And it is something you should do now. I have witnessed families who are trying to deal with loss and grief while trying to also make final arrangements. I have also witnessed the contrast of a family who knows they are fulfilling the last wishes of one that they love. The staggering difference in the emotional well-being of these families is enough to convince anyone that preplanning your funeral is an act of compassion for those you leave behind. Grief is enough to deal with, without the added paperwork!
Beyond making your final arrangements and purchasing a funeral plot, I would encourage you to get your paperwork in order. There is a lot more red-tape involved in dying than you might think – wills, living wills, power of attorney, insurance, money – it is enough to make your head spin on a good day. I stumbled across this site, aptly called “Get Your Sh*t Together,” which is a wonderful resource to help make sure you are ready for the end (whenever it may come). Their checklists and templates will be a godsend that your family will thank you for one day.
Embrace the beautiful, magnificent gift of this life with your eyes wide. I’m going to go add some pink streamers to my bike.