Welcome to The Family Plot

Aug 11, 2009 | 3 comments

Passed on. Kicked the bucket. Gave up the ghost. Checked out. Left the building. Keeled over. Took the Big Bus. Caught the last train. Bought the farm. Paid the ultimate price. Pushing up daisies. Knocking on the Pearly Gates. Taking a dirt nap. Gone to the Great (whatever) in the Sky.

There are so many euphemisms for death. How many people will just say so-and-so died? We’re afraid to think or talk about death, perhaps for fear that its contemplation will precipitate the event.

Let’s face it, we’re all gonna die someday. A 100% mortality rate is guaranteed. Death is not optional. Yet, wedding planning gets way more attention than funeral planning, even though both events can cost the same. That’s not a stretch, given a modest wedding and a traditional funeral.

We will all need to be disposed of when we die. If you don’t talk about what you want done with your lifeless body, you will leave your family and friends in a world of hurt if the Big Bus unexpectedly runs you over tomorrow and transports you to the Pearly Gates. Do everybody a favor and make some plans. It’s best to put your two cents in now, while you still can.

This planning goes beyond responsible adult concerns such as last wills, living wills, medical directives, power of attorney designations, and trusts. If you have not already drawn up at least some of these documents, I highly recommend you do so. The Five Wishes booklet, available online at www.AgingWithDignity.org, is a good way to start the conversation about medical directives – how you want to be treated if you become seriously ill.

As journalist Eleanor Clift said in a New York Times Magazine interview, “It’s time to take death out of the closet and talk about it and recognize the steps you need to take should some medical calamity befall you.”

However, we won’t be talking much about legal documents here. This blog is more about planning how you and your loved ones can gracefully say goodbye when the spirit departs this earthly plane.

I have seen and experienced the comfort that a funeral or memorial service can generate for those who grieve over a loved one who has died. My goal is to help you consider your role in this inevitable life cycle event, make it easier to implement the rituals that lead toward healing, and do it with humor.

We won’t laugh in the face of death, but will approach the topic with a light touch to ward off despair and make the job of dispatching our loved ones easier to bear.

Come and take my hand. Don’t fear the Reaper.

A Good Goodbye