I generally shy away from this topic. But a few things have happened recently causing me to realize that there are some issues that can make the process better.
I did say process. I have observed a range of situations, from a young person with a couple of years to plan, to a middle aged person who died suddenly and unexpectedly, to an elderly person whose passing was entirely anticipated. In all cases it was a process. They were all hard, and they were all different. As an inexperienced observer, I did notice that several things had a big impact on how the whole process went, for the patient and the friends and family.
Wellness in dying comes from wellness in living. It comes from the most basic of things.
- Get along with those around you. Resolve your issues and express all your affection.
- Stay out of debt.
- Obtain life insurance to cover any debt that you have and to provide for spouse and children through college.
- Clear out your household clutter so your family and friends will not have to do it.
- Have a clear paperwork system.
- Have computer backup and passwords entrusted to someone.
- Establish a will if you have assets and or children. This can prevent bad feelings after you are gone.
- Establish a living will (advance medical directives) including instructions for any organ donation with your primary caregiver.
- Arrange your life and work so you are not always postposing special experiences.
- Arrange your everyday life and work so you have good experiences routinely.
These are the Days of Return and Repentance in the Jewish Calendar, a time of self examination. It is the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days. The liturgy refers to the Book of Life. It refers to those whose names will be inscribed for the coming year and those that will not. The traditional blessing reflects this imagery. The whole service is very much a contemplation of mortality and the need to be mindfully present in the time we have.
May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year. May you have a good year and a sweet year.