We know we are not going to live forever; sooner or later, our bodies and consciousness will part ways. Most of the time we avoid thinking about it. But, coming to grips with our own mortality can help us feel in better control of our lives.
If you ask people what bothers them most about the idea of their dying, most will say it's the separation from their loved ones. Not being around to take care of them, protect them from harm or share in their joy is the most distressing part of it.
You can alleviate some of your separation anxiety by taking care of some things before you go. Replace worry about your things, your pets or loved ones with these few simple steps:
Make a Will
You don't need fancy lawyers or to use extensive legal terminology. In most cases, a simple will is all you'll need. Just make an inventory of your valuables and assets and who you want to give them to. Yes, your Elvis potato chip collection counts as an asset. If it means something to you, it's valuable. Write your will to ease your mind, but remember, you are also doing it to make life easier for those you will leave behind. Try to anticipate what problems may crop up down the road or who will benefit most from their inheritance. You can find reference material for making your own will at your local library or online.
Bequeath Your To-Do List
In addition to a will, maybe you want to leave a personal to-do list. List those things you never got around to doing but really wanted to complete according to your vision. Let those to whom you feel closest know how you envisioned finishing that painting, or what color scheme you wanted for the living room remodel. Then, entrust them to pick up where you left off.
Let Them Write It Off!
On the same note, let people know what wasn't so important to you. You can lift a huge burden off people by making a list of those things you'd be okay with letting go—to charity, to your ex, or even the dump. Your daughter Beth will be guilt-free tossing that ratty sweater that she always assumed was your favorite. People make false assumptions all the time. Unburden them with the facts of your feelings.
Be a Contributing Writer of Your Own Memorial
Do you have feelings about someone you've always wanted to express, or other things you've wanted someone to know, but could never find the courage, time or opportunity for them? Here's your chance to spill. So long as it doesn't bring harm to the recipients, what have you got to lose? This exercise might even embolden you to act on them while you're still alive. Just imagine, every future "I wish I had known when he was alive," can be replaced with an "I'm so glad you told me!"
Choose Your Sendoff
If you want to be more in control of what happens to your body after you die, consider the many alternatives to standard funeral and burial practices that are available today. From home funerals to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_burial">"green burials", people today are bringing kinship and community back to funeral arrangements. If you're going to be cremated, where would you like your ashes to be strewn? Where would you like to be buried? Think about what brings you the most comfort and share your wishes with those who count.
One last thing... What end-of-life preparations will have you resting in peace? Tell us your thoughts!