From Devil's Kitchen: Things to do

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By Jan David Fisher

Which is harder to do? To die for your country or to live for your country? I suggest to you, dear readers, that dying is easy when compared to surviving and living.  I am not just writing about being a soldier in a battle; we have police, firefighters (remember the team fighting a forest fire), and ordinary folks put into extra-ordinary situations.  Dying means it’s over, you have given all you can give and no one can ask for more. Living, on the other hand, means you can give more. You can dig deep within yourself and find the little bit more of life, energy, or desire. When you do, you typically find that you are deeper than you thought. Some of us may never find our true depth.

If we do care for our families and friends, one thing we need to spend serious time on is expressing our wishes and desires for when we die. Several questions come to mind concerning death and dying.  Have you done the easy thing; made a guidance packet of what to do when you do die? This packet contains more than a will; it should have health directives for several situations. What do you want your survivors to do with your body?  If you have a will, is it up-to-date?  Do you have special requests for specific items for your family?  Who will be there to see to the proper distribution?

Have a serious discussion with a lawyer concerning your estate.  Don’t leave it up to the state to decide what to do. (I can almost guarantee not having a will will mean a mess for your beneficiaries.)  Once you get the bulk of the paperwork done, be prepared to review and change as needed. Do you own property? What items are precious to you and have meaning for you?  How do you want these things taken care of?   

Some of this does not have to wait until you die.  Sometimes you can clean out the things that are in the way by having the family (and friends) taking some of this stuff home with them. Anything and everything fits in this picture. If you are not going to have any more formal dinners, does one or more of your children want the silver trays or the fancy dishes? If you are not planning on using something and someone in the family would like to have and use it, why not give it to them now while both of you are still alive. This avoids the painful debates of “Mom always said I could have this” (whatever “this” is).  Give it to them now. Watch them enjoy the item just as you did or maybe even more so because the item has special meaning for them.  This is not dying and distribution. This is living and using things as they were meant to be used. What do you do if two or more children want the same thing? Solve the problem your way or let the courts decide.

You can make your death easy for your family or you can make it tough. Answer these questions now while you are alive, avoiding the fights. Giving away old clothes now instead of letting your children occasionally pick out an item or two in the closet that you will never wear again (unless you lose 100 pounds) is a good thing to do. You have more to do, but enough for now. Until next week.

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