A close friend of mine went through what must be one of the toughest things to go through, he buried his daughter after a long battle of breast cancer after he had already buried his wife for the same illness. Frank was in a terrible state.
Vicki had never married. When she was diagnosed, she moved back in with her father. They would have important end of life discussions. Instead of denying what might be the outcome, Vicki and Frank embraced the reality of an early death, and opted to talk through every possibility. At 35 years young, Vicki had already lost her mother to cancer, and now she was in the same battle, ten years later. The lesson she had learned from her mother, was that information was the key to peace! Therefore Vicki found it important to spend time with her father discussing “untouchable” subjects – about death and dying. Something no 35 year old should have to do.
Frank also learned the lesson of writing down the wishes of his family. Whenever Vicki said something that Frank needed to remember, he grabbed the nearest piece of paper and jotted it down. There were papers everywhere. Some more important than others, but all held a piece of Vicki on it. Frank knew that when the end came, there would be medical decisions, doctor visits, experimental drugs and so much confusion. Having important matters written down would at least east some of the stress.
This is what Frank thought, and what he was counting on.
This is not what happened.
Vicki’s condition weakened over time, and at the end, it was indeed hectic. Frank was able to take Vicki to their church to make peace with the creator. Frank was beside her bed when Vicki died. Needless to say, the confusion, the anger, the frustration, the loneliness was all too much to bear. And he had yet another funeral to plan.
Frank would search the house and Vicki’s room for some of those notes that he taken. He knew that his daughter wanted certain college friends to be contacted at her death, and he knew that she had some particular songs she wanted played at the funeral.
But he could not find that information.
In the months after the funeral, while cleaning her room, he found that piece of paper with the friend’s names and the song information (which was not sung).
Not only was he miserable about his daughter’s death, but now he was tormented about not fulfilling her wishes.
If something were to happen to you today, would your family and loved ones have a central location to get needed information? Would they know who your doctor is? If you have a will and where it is? Or would they have to struggle to find this information?
There are many facts in your life that others will need to be aware of, if and when the time comes. Many people are not comfortable talking about personal financial and end of life matters, but they are willing to write it down. Don’t have it scattered; put your information down in one location. This way, you’ll be able to instruct your loved ones on critically important matters, such as:
Professionals to Contact: Doctor, lawyer, financial advisor, etc.
Financial Accounting: Where the bank accounts are, the brokerage account and more
On-Line Information and Passwords
Instructions for Survivors and Loved Ones: Pre-planned funeral information, what songs to sing, etc.
Location of Estate documents: Particularly the Health Care Directive and the Will
Location of Safe Deposit Box: And location of the key
By taking this important step, you will be sharing information that family members will need to know about, when the time comes that you may not be able to tell them yourself. They will know your wishes, they will have your information and they will feel your love.