Get Organized Before You Die – Who Me?
My friend Virginia passed about a week ago. She was a great contribution to people’s lives in so many ways. She’d been a psychologist and advocator for people’s well-being on so many levels. She certainly was a gift of joy, love and generosity of spirit until the very end.
For the past number of years, after the passing of her partner, Virginia lived alone. One of the cool things about Virginia was that she realized that in the end she’d need to count on her friends to settle her affairs after her passing. I think it was about 5 years ago that Virginia called together a group of friends and requested our support when she passed. She asked each of us if we would step in to handle arrangements that she meticulously laid out. We each got a key to her house, and all the documents necessary to act as power of attorney if necessary. And her documents were also carefully placed on her refrigerator, so that if found dead the EMTs would know exactly what to do.
A few weeks ago, Virginia was experiencing some flu-like symptoms, and her heart was giving her problems, but nothing much was made of it. Virginia went quietly in her sleep, as ready as anyone could be for her exit.
Now, That’s the Way to Go!
I got an email this morning from Power of Attorney #1. She wanted to let us all know that she had been to Virginia’s, cleaned out the fridge, swept up, and put out the trash. That was pretty much it. No huge mess to clean up. No cluttered spaces, no drudgery – wondering what to do with masses of miscellaneous boxes of junk. Nope! Virginia took care of the people she loved by taking care of her own trash, getting rid of the unnecessaries, so that those who would be deconstructing her life on Earth wouldn’t be burdened.
Virginia’s practice of making sure everything was in order for when she died has impacted me deeply. Her precious papers and key to her house was with my own paperwork, Will and Trust. I continually let go of stuff I don’t want others to have to deal with. If I’m keeping something because I feel bad throwing it away, I ask myself, "Am I willingly burdening someone else with the task of throwing this away just because I don’t want to burden myself with the task?" If the answer is yes, I throw it away. If the answer is no, and I still may find joy in having it around, then I keep it.
I’m passing on the wisdom of Virginia to friends who are also alone and haven’t got their affairs in order. And this week I’ll be going to the Fire Station and picking up my LIFE Form Documents, and most importantly I’ll be filling them out and putting them in the Freezer – apparently that is a handing and convenient place for EMT’s and other First Responders to find important papers. That’s good to know, right?
Each of us have dozens of reasons to put this project off. I know for myself that if I don’t take care of this, there will be confusion and frustration left for the people I love. That’s not the way I want to be remembered. And, I was joking with my daughter the other day that if I take care of all the arrangements before hand, she doesn’t have to attend to all of that crazy decision-making. She can just be with her deep grief for my passing. We both laughed! That’s a good thing.
Aging like a guru has us consider the reality of our departure. We don’t know how and we don’t know when, but we know it’s coming. It’s smart to take care of some important details before the precious event occurs. In fact, Consumer Report has a post called What to Do When Someone Dies. It’s a great list to review now and perhaps get some things in place. Just a thought!
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