This post is not my usual chipper writing but I feel it's a topic worth discussing. No worries, I'm not suicidal or homicidal so feel free to proceed without fear. Things may get a little emotional though, so if you're a crier, grab some tissues now.
I am a huge believer in being prepared for death. Let's face it, it's inevitable. It's going to happen sooner or later, to everyone. We can be taken at any moment and I for one, think it's imperative to let your loved ones know your final wishes. Grief is a painful, overwhelming and confusing process for those left behind and the least you can do is lift the burden of making them guess at what you "would have wanted." It's easier to push those uncomfortable thoughts away and put off the difficult conversations for another time, but it's important to do, NOW. Because you just never know what tomorrow may bring.
I guess a little of it comes from being in the military. Deployments have a way of making you very aware of your own mortality or that of your loved one if they are the one leaving. The military requires that everyone have a Will and a Family Care Plan for those with children. The process forces you to discuss on some level what you want should the "what ifs" happen. That's a start, but really, put some thought into it, write it down, and tell someone.
TALKING ABOUT DEATH WILL NOT KILL YOU!
If you up and die unexpectedly, what do you want?
Do you want to be cremated and your ashes spread someplace special?
Do you want to be buried and if so, where?
Do you want a memorial service, an obituary, to be buried face down so the world can kiss your ass?
Whatever it is - all you have to do is communicate it. If the people handling your affairs don't do what you want, you have every right to haunt them.
The other thing to keep in mind is the unfortunate circumstance in which you sorta die. By that, I mean something happens and you are not able to make choices for yourself anymore. Do you wish to have heroic measures taken to preserve your life? Do you want a breathing tube, feeding tube, pain management or to be unplugged?
Are you thinking yet? Do you have an idea of what you want?
I know what I want.
Here they are, my Final Wishes, for the world to read.
I do not wish to be kept alive by artificial means if there is not a reasonable chance that I will return to my old self. I am more concerned with my mental abilities than my physical ones. As long as I am still "me" I want to be around and a part of my children's lives. If I end up in a permanent vegetative state or something similar, I wish to be disconnected once my family has reached a point that they are comfortable saying goodbye. If it takes them some time to get to that point, it's ok. If I'm not me anymore, it's about them and I don't want them carrying any guilt.
I want to be an organ donor. If there is any part of me that is still useful and someone else could benefit from it, take it!
I prefer not to be embalmed. I think the practice is strange and unnecessary. I believe that the body is just a shell for the soul but something about draining all the fluids and replacing them with chemicals doesn't seem right to me.
If people need to see it to believe it, I'm cool with a viewing of some sort. I think I'll make a good looking corpse. FYI: it is possible to preserve a body long enough for a viewing with a good industrial refrigerator and some make up.
I would like my remains to be cremated and the ashes used to create diamonds. Handsome gets one, each of my kiddos get their own, as well as my parents if they are still living. If my sister wants one, she can have one too. I am not a one woman diamond mine so everybody else will have to settle for a picture or something.
It takes several weeks for the diamonds to be made so I would like some sort of memorial service when they are ready. This should be a party with music, food, the works! No one is allowed to wear black and if there are tears, I hope they are tears of joy. I want friends and family to tell funny and embarrassing stories and have the best time possible.
I would like some sort of military honors. I take a lot of pride in my service so if there is a way to incorporate that in somewhere, that would be awesome. Doesn't have to be at the memorial per say just wherever it seems to fit best. (Taps is beautiful but so emotional and that could put a damper on the party spirit.)
My family should spread any ashes that remain in a location that makes them happy. I prefer some where that either reminds them of good times with me or that gives them a sense of peace. If that place is different for each of them, it's ok with me to divide up the ashes. We move around a lot, I don't claim any place in particular as "home" and I don't want to sit up on the mantle forever.
So that's it I think. Hopefully, I have covered everything and should the inevitable happen sooner than expected, my loved ones don't have to worry about trying to imagine what I would want. I really encourage all you folks out there to do the same. Take the time to think about it, talk about and write it down.
Like I said above, talking about death will not kill you.
It's important to to note also that a will doesn't really apply to wishes like these. The arrangements are at the discretion of those making them and ultimately by whoever is paying for them. If you haven't thought about life-insurance plans or setting aside some moolah for the final hoorah it's a good thing to look into. If you do have a will, it's a common mistake to lock it in a safe deposit box. Unless someone else is authorized to open that box, with their own key, they won't be allowed access to it without going to court first. By that time, your assets could already be entangled in the probate system and whatever you had written in the will may no longer be possible to accomplish. The best thing to do is register a copy of your will with the courthouse, keep a copy someplace safe (but accessible) in your home and provide an additional copy to the person that will act as executor.
and don't forget to leave me large sums of money or jewels in appreciation for my advice here. :)