As a columnist for the now-defunct Albuquerque Tribune, I wrote “Matchings, Hatchings, and Dispatchings,” a how-to feature about local weddings, births, and deaths. The columns on death invariably elicited the greatest number of responses from readers who resonated with the information. To help people better handle the life cycle event associated with death, I have focused my writing and researching efforts to show the many ways “dispatchings” can be done well.
I am an event planner, not a psychologist. I have attended numerous funerals and memorial services, most for total strangers (not unlike the title characters in the cult classic film Harold and Maude). I have had in-depth visits at mortuaries and the Office of the Medical Investigator, where I almost fainted from the smell. Television doesn’t convey that aspect when you watch CSI. I have taken numerous courses on death rituals, grief, and the afterlife, and am a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, also known as The Thanatology Association.
I’m also a breast cancer survivor. Nothing reminds you of your own mortality more than a brush with something as serious and transforming as cancer.
The date and time of our eventual demise is a mystery. That uncertainty contributes to discomfort acknowledging our mortality. But facing the thought of our death can help us to better appreciate the reality of life.
Death can strike both the young and the old. Even when someone experiences a lingering illness, the end always seems unexpected. Attorney Randy Hamblin, speaking on estate planning at an end-of-life issues seminar, said, “Anyone younger than the age of 70 always prefaces their comments with ‘If I die.’ It’s really ‘When I die.’ None of us are getting out of here alive.”
I have attended, pre-planned and facilitated many funerals and memorial services, and saw how being prepared really helps families through what is always a very emotionally trying time. I offer The Family Plot Blog for you to find the information, inspiration and tools to prepare for the inevitable. We are all going to die sooner or later. It’s better to plan how you’re going to celebrate life when the end comes than be caught frozen like a deer in the headlights when the Big Bus comes to take you or a loved one to The Pearly Gates.
Ready to make some plans?