When the Time Comes
By now most of you know that I have control issues. So you will not be surprised that I feel strongly about making my own “exit plans”. You know what I am talking about: deciding how I am going to die and what to do with my body once my soul has vacated the premises. While I have no desire to leave now, I want to plan and prepare so that when the time comes; those heavy decisions and actions are already in place and not a burden to my family. After all, I don’t want to be sitting on a cloud trying to psychically connect with my loved ones to do what I think is best. And I don’t think the reception and connection is very good between here and there.
Thad and I recently updated our Last Wills and Testaments, Health Surrogates and Anatomical Donations. Whew! Even though much had been decided 30 years ago, much had changed. For one thing, Francesca is all grown up with a husband and two children of her own so there is certainly no need for guardianship. And so many of our family have left this planet and now reside with the good Lord. But there were new decisions to make. Specifically, who inherits what and if we and all our immediate descendants perished in the sinking of the Titanic II, who would inherit the dog, the house, the family heirlooms and money. The decisions that are required seemed to have multiplied since we first had wills made.
At the same time, we went to a funeral home to discuss what to do with us when we are no longer living and breathing. Oh my! Talk about decisions. Some were easy such as we both wanted to be cremated. Thad wanted both of us to be placed in one urn regardless of when we died. He gravitated to a big white sea shell from the Neptune Society that would then be placed on the side of a reef once we were both deceased. Practical me, was trying to figure out where this large shell would sit in our home or Francesca’s until we were both gone. About the only place it would fit in with our décor is the bathroom and I really don’t want to reside in the bathroom. I spend enough time there already. Also, while Thad was once an avid scuba diver, I wouldn’t be caught dead with algae and fish scum on me. We finally settled on a classic two tone box that would sit nicely on a mantle or shelf. After all, we are classics at this point.
There were so many questions that begged answers. But the one that really got to me was how I wanted my body to be transported from wherever I died to the crematorium. Now, I was like, a body bag like on TV, right? But no, today there are many different kinds of boxes, from caskets to a simple box. I really had to think on this; especially when she showed us the variations and their costs. The emphasis being on the cost – money that I would literally be throwing into the fire. You have no idea how expensive a box can be! Before I realized that I was thinking out loud, I said I could simple save one of the large Amazon boxes I had been getting throughout the pandemic and save my family some money. While she thought that was funny and the strangest answer she had ever gotten, she told me I needed to choose from the list.
All this made us appreciate our mothers who both at 42 years of age became widows and had to make these decisions alone. The courage and the forethought to make those choices before they were ill helped insure that we met their needs at a crucial and difficult time for all. And that’s what we wanted for our daughter and her family.
So we had “The Talk”. First with ourselves – How did we want to be cared for during our last days? Where did we want to be? Who did we want to make decisions for us should we be unable to? Who was to oversee our financial and medical decisions and would they be one and the same person? And what were our memorial wishes – from cremation or burial, to funeral or graveside memorial service?
Once the decisions were made, the next step was to have “The Talk” with Francesca and her husband, Rich. While the usual “Oh, Mom & Dad, you aren’t going anywhere yet”, we knew that without a moment’s notice, we could be there. The anxiety of not knowing what we wanted would only make that period of time more frustrating, difficult, and painful. And there is enough pain while living life without adding to it. We talked about finances, health insurance coverages, and memorial wishes. All that information has been put into writing and the location disclosed to both of them. We discuss what preferences we had for our living situation, managing household chores, and when and where to go should either of us become incapable of the day to day tasks.
All this brought up insecure feelings, doubts, fears and control issues as we faced our immortality. A mental video came to me of my failings and regrets and a desire for a change or a “do-over”. It also helped us to determine what matters in our lives, what we wanted to do, how we want to be remembered and brought a new perspective to our lives.
Once we addressed the issues, there was such a sense of relief and empowerment that both Thad and I felt good about our plans for the future and end of life. We felt a resurgence of energy and peace that has allowed us to enjoy living in the present and move with confidence into the future.
When the time comes, I want to be prepared. Oh, I know that I can’t anticipate nor foresee every single need but I can do my best to help smooth some of the path for my family.
When the time comes, I look forward to the next adventure – straight into the arms of Christ and eternity. When the time comes I want to exit this world with no regrets; leaving behind more good examples than bad of a life well lived and sweet memories for the wonderful people I have shared this world with.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 ESV
If you want to know more about planning for the end of life and how to approach it from a practical, step by step guide; please visit my website www.LorettaSchoen.com or www.SurvivingMedicalMayhem.com/Resources for Free Resources on this topic and more.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.