Author’s note: The following article is about death preparation and is not intended to offend any of our neighbors for whom the subject of death is taboo.
I’m sorry to surprise you here, but one day, you will die. I want to share some practical tips on how to prepare for death. The spiritual side is up to you.
Make a will
It may seem strange, especially for our young mamas, but you can update a will throughout your life to reflect any necessary changes. Having documentation of your wishes could mean the difference between your family handling your possessions, or the state. Even if you don’t have much, it’s your decision to decide where it goes.
Tip: I have been told many times that this is something you don’t want to create with internet software, and instead splurge for a real lawyer. Many have bundle packages that include medical wills, health care proxy etc. I won’t elaborate on those here.
The real kick in the pants for setting up our death documents was the dread over what would happen to our kids. My husband and I are both healthy thirty-somethings, but there are many ways that death could not care about those things. It was important to me that we had legal documentation (and a conversation!) about where our kids would go in the event we were both dead. Make sure you talk to whomever you choose so they are in the loop.
Tip: Have a different person serve as the children’s finance holders than the person who is taking guardianship.
Life insurance policy
Life insurance is not terribly expensive, but it is a huge relief. I know that while I’m staying home with my kids, I will always have a house if my husband dies. If we both were dead, my kids are set up with a large amount of money that would mean they would not be a burden to their designated guardians.
I can’t personally speak to this one, but if I currently had the funds, my funeral and burial would be done and ready to go. What is worse for people in mourning than trying to make a hundred costly decisions? Decide and pay for that yourself. Remember your partner may know all your preferences in burial, but that may not be an option when the time comes.
Tip: Take a walk around the cemetary and get some ideas for headstones. All Soul’s Day/ Dia de los Muertos is a great time to do that- and bring a broom!
A black folder can help you prepare for death. It’s a place to keep death documentation that includes passwords and other account information that people outside your household may not be able to get access to otherwise. Keep it easy when things are not!
Swedish death cleaning
Swedish death cleaning is a form of extreme minimalism. For once, I’m not telling you to go through and get rid of all your things, but especially as you get older keep evaluating what you have. As your kids get older, talk with them about things they might like and things they definitely do not. I have had this conversation with my mom, and it sounded like this, “I would like this one thing, and absolutely nothing else”. I can almost guarantee that your kids do not want their old childhood mementos, toys or report cards so do not hold on to them. Do not save, send or will it to them!
Tip: If it is very hard for you to let these things go, create a digital file.
Join the conversation! Are there other ways you can think of that would be helpful to prepare for death?