One of the most difficult conversations to hold with people is the one where you ask them to walk you through their desires in the event of their passing away. It’s especially difficult to have that conversation with your aging parents at a time you know they are already feeling concerns about the dangers of getting the Coronavirus at their age. But the fact is it would be irresponsible for any of us not to be having that conversation right now. Not because we plan for anyone to die, but because the simple reality is that eventually all of us are going to die, and this current situation only amplifies why it is so important for us to have thought through these things and gotten plans in place for whatever might come.
I went to see my parents the other night for what will probably be the last time I’ll get to see them in person for the next few months as my Mom is 77 years old and my Dad is 82 and both are high risk due to health problems they’ve had so the last thing I would ever want to do is put them at risk. I let them know how important it is for them to think through their wishes if either of them were to get sick and, heaven forbid, pass away. It was hard to bring that up to my parents but I knew it would be irresponsible not to, so I forced myself to go through it with them. I asked them to write down what they would want for their funerals, who they would want to have speak at it, what songs they would want played, etc. I asked them to reach out to all of their other children and inquire what things their children feel sentimental value for that they would want to mark as being left to them in their will. We talked about how important it was to let us know where their wills are, how they need to record all their accounts and passwords somewhere secure that we can get to in the event of their passing, and how we’d like them to walk us through their files and important papers before anyone passes so we can scan in important things while they are still around to tell us what they mean and why they matter. And so on…
The truth is that it wasn’t a fun conversation to have for them, nor was it any fun for me to think about a day when I might lose my parents, but I feel better knowing we’ve talked about it and they are working on putting a plan together while they are healthy and able to do so.
As I left their home the other night I realized that rather than waiting for my own kids to come to me and have the talk I’d just had with my parents, I ought to make sure I have gone through that same exercise and done my own end of life planning so that, heaven forbid, my husband or I were to pass away we will have provided our children with our wishes and instructions on how to move forward without us.
Then we get hit with the earthquake yesterday and I’m like, “YEP, get it done!!!”
Get your end of life plan in place and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Don’t think of it as planning for your death, think of it as doing an act of service for those you hold most dear.
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )