Thursday, July 8, 2010

Write It Down!

What's she on about now? Make your final wishes known. Don't just tell your spouse/best friend/closest relative, "I want (such-and-such) when I die," - write it down.

You wouldn't get on a plane to Paris without your passport; you wouldn't take off on a long car trip without having your vehicle checked ... well, we're all going to be dead a long time and there's no make goods. You've got to get it right the first time.

These are documents you need to have in envelopes, clearly marked as to contents: Will, Funeral Instructions (be as detailed as you like! New Orleans marching band? Why the hell not?!) and a Do Not Resuscitate order.

Will: I wrote my first at 21. Granted, "my estate" (said grandly, in rolling tones) was a pot, a pan and about $100 in the checking account. Today, I have enjoyed the great pleasure of willfully crossing people out of My Will! Such a vindictive thrill... and all codicils have been notarized, in case you were hoping for an error...

Funeral Instructions: across the grass (cremation) or under it (burial)? Religious service? Memorial service, funeral home only? Graveside service?

Pick the music! This is your last big party, after all. This is what you'll hear when I croak. I picked it because I like the message and because when it comes on, people will reel in shock:

"We'll meet again, don't know where; don't know when
But I know we'll meet again some sunny day.
Keep smiling through just like you always do
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away.
So will you pleas say "Hello" to the folks that I know
Tell them I won't be long
They'll be happy to know that as you saw me go, I was singing this song" (repeat chorus)

I think most people fear a Do Not Resuscitate order, feeling that you're signing your own death warrant. Not necessarily so!

It depends on what you want! If you want to be hauled back from the brink with CPR, ventilator, feeding tube -- say so! If not, say that -- via the Natural Death Act, California Health and Safety Code, Section 7188. (Check your own state regulations) You will need two witnesses to your signing, but the document does not have to be notarized.

The shock of your demise is going to be bad enough; don't force your survivors to make decisions in their stunned state. Write it down! It's the last graceful thing that you can do for them.

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