Are your plans ready?

by | Mar 8, 2024

Last fall I had the opportunity to hear Pat Miles, former local TV news anchor, speak about her experiences in managing the death of her husband, Bucky.  He lived just 3 months following his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer which didn’t give them much time to plan, much less cope emotionally with the reality of his diagnosis.  Bucky had been a lawyer, so they thought they had all their bases covered and everything was in place.  It turns out that wasn’t the case.  In Pat’s book, Before All is Said and Done, she talks candidly about the things that had been overlooked or assumed, the struggles she experienced in getting his affairs in order after his death, and what she’s learned about grief from a variety of perspectives.  She talks about the guilt she harbors in having her husband cremated when they never discussed his preferences.  They also never talked about the disposition of his cremated remains, so his urn still sits in her house as she grapples with the decision.

Death is not easy to talk about.  Not even when it’s standing there brazenly on the horizon.    I remember the days before I lost my best and dearest friend 28 years ago.  I had to be out of town for work, but went immediately to the hospital upon my return.  Just outside, I happened to meet his brother and mother who said, “the doctors say it will be a few days.”  I seriously asked, “A few days until he’s discharged?”  That is how blinded I was to the reality that was right in front of me.

However, I’ve also learned through experience that the time to be making decisions related to the end of our bodily life on earth is not at the 11th hour.  Not making plans in advance makes the experience even harder on our loved ones.  Having plans in place takes the guilt, guesswork, disagreements or indecision out of the equation and our loved ones then simply need to put our plans into action.  In Pat’s book, she suggests that we write a letter of intention to go along with our plans so our loved ones understand why we made the plans we did and what is important to us.

They say death and taxes are the only two certainties in life.  Tax day is right around the corner.   Death, we can’t predict, but we do know it’s going to come.  Are your plans ready?