Thanks to you we are having a book. We are more than 100% funded – and the book is bound to be published by Unbound. Thanks. You have impregnated us with what's needed and the manuscript is achingly close to being finalised ... we can already feel something kicking down below.
The current working title is Act3 - The Art Of Getting Older. It's an art because some people seem to have an insight into these things, and though science has a useful contribution here, ageing seems to go beyond science into a place more mysterious...
Which brings us spookily to the chapter we're now working on, called Act 4 - The Art Of Dying. Some people seem to manage the end process so much better than others. What the hell are they doing?
As you might have guessed we are not experts on death itself, or what happens during or after it, if anything, however there's some useful stuff we are assembling about that period of time when, as one person put it,
"You're living with a diminishing self ..."
A lawyer we interviewed said how much he'd enjoyed planning for his death, convening a family meeting, letting his children know how much they'd inherit, how and why the details were worked out – why it was fair to his ex-wife, their mother.
Another family – two parents and three adult daughters – met round a meal table and happily agreed an unequal division of the parents' estate – favouring one of the daughters over the others, for family reasons.
Yet another family with three children came to an agreement that two of the children would inherit nothing of the proceeds from the parents' house. These things can and do happen – in a good way.
Yet, some people have bloody fights over this stuff. Is a fight or upset inevitable? We'd say the secret is in the planning and that's what this chapter is about. After all planning for death is in fact about life.
As a subscriber, as if you've not done enough already, we are inviting you to give us your thoughts in this little survey (only 4 questions) about how you're preparing for death. We'd be interested to know - and it can be anonymous if you wish.
Nina Bradford's mum who is in her 80s said to her four adult children "I've decided what I want, when I die. I want no fuss." Nina and her siblings were able to give her some feedback, and say to her, "mum, there are lots of people who really love you, and having a ‘no fuss’ policy when you’re dead deprives them of any opportunity to say goodbye, to recognise their loss, maybe it doesn’t need to be quite so rigid as that." So Nina's family started talking about her mum's death and her funeral. She was saying "put me in a cardboard box, no ceremony." We were able to soften her on that, and bizarrely it’s not all about her wishes. That prompted something, and we were able to have a much bigger conversation, not all these separate ones.
We booked in an appointment and we stuck to it – just the four of us without partners and mum. We talked about practicalities, financial planning, and mapping out some scenarios – the foundations really. Then mum was able to talk about what she wanted for end of life, the funeral, and after the funeral.
For us, we were all in the same room, so we all heard first-hand what mum’s wishes were, what we all wanted and what our anxieties were.
Afterwards, we were all saying how valuable and helpful it all was. I think that’s still the case.
A few years ago Judy and I (Adrian) discovered that our will made no mention of our third daughter and that the childless couple who had years before agreed to be guardians to our children in case of our death, now had four children of their own. Yikes!
Seems it's never a good time to plan for one's own death... but maybe it's time to make time.
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