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Have you planned for your death yet? Not a typical blog post opener!
Considering and discussing our own mortality is a common topic of conversation. Death is usually only talked about when news is shared of the loss of a loved one or acquaintance.
It usually starts with sad reflections of the loss and who is left behind. It then moves on to kind words and fond reflections on memories of the deceased – then a swift change back to more cheery, upbeat chat.
There is a growing movement to normalise conversations around death and dying. Encouraging and empowering people to contemplate their futures, and make positive choices for their end of life wishes. In reality, the furthest most people get is thinking about arranging a will. Whether this actually happens is a different matter. We are all only on this earth for a relatively short time. As a consequence, most people avoid dwelling on this inevitable part of life – often until it is too late.
This post considers the three main types of end of life planners. Which category do you belong to and what can you do to plan ahead?
What type of end of life planner are you?
As we go through life’s journey, we will be faced with differing proximity to dealing with death.
Death is still very much a taboo subject with some people just not ready to accept that we all have an end date.
Children, teenagers and young adults probably never consider death other than when they are aware of the loss of a family member. It is doubtful that they would consider making any plans when for themselves. They are so far removed from what is deemed to be something that happens to ‘older people’.
The exception here is if they have a life limiting illness, which may naturally place them in to this next category.
Dealing with death now
This can be adults that are dealing with an imminent or recent death. This may be the loss of a partner or child, or the death of a parent or elderly relative.
This group have no choice but to go through navigating the various end of life processes to deal with a death.
Depending on whether their bereavement was expected or sudden, can often dictate how prepared they are for the arrangements needed after a death. If the deceased was elderly or had a life limiting illness, there may have been time for some discussion around the person’s final wishes. This could include end of life care arrangements and funeral wishes, as well as having time to put their legal, financial and practical affairs in order.
Where the death was sudden, regrettably there may have been no plans put in place. It is often having the experience of being in this category that can trigger people to start considering their own future arrangements. More so if the person faced particular challenges in resolving someone else’s life, or there has been uncertainty or conflict when executing the person’s final wishes.
As part of the natural aging process, people may start to plan ahead for the end of their life. It is traditionally thought that older people are more likely to consider funeral and plans, wills and end of life care arrangements. However this is not a given. I know many 70 year olds that are more active than some people in their 20’s!
Age is not a guarantee that people will have made formal and practical plans for their future.
A fourth type of end of life planner?
We have the power to create a fourth category – ‘The positive death planner’. We can encourage more people to transition to this category, as dying becomes a more openly discussed part of general life planning. This new group of people become less afraid to consider their final days and take positive steps to plan ahead.
This is not saying we should be morbid, only think about death and wait for the end of life.
It is to make sure that your affairs are in order; people know your wishes and have peace of mind knowing the process will be clear for others to follow.
Why does it matter if you don’t talk about death?
As we move through the various stages of life, the reality is that we never know when we will have our final sunset. The responsibilities that will fall to others after your death can be overwhelming, complicated and add further distress whilst grieving.
Consider where you sit on the spectrum of end of life planners. Could you take some small steps to consider your future wishes now? Having even a basic plan in place whilst you are young and healthy can really help others whenever this information is needed.
Start the conversation with people whose life you may responsible for resolving one day. Do not underestimate how helpful this will be, and the stress this alleviate in the future.
Be a positive death planner!
Get talking. Make sure your legal and financial affairs are in order.
Create your own Sunset Plan using our digital vault service to record all of your practical information in one handy place. Then get back to enjoying life – regardless of what type of end of life planner you are!
Why not share this post on social media? Become a positive death planner and encourage others to plan ahead.