When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Be prepared

I shouldn't really criticise, as I'm not the most organised person you could meet, but it's so inconsiderate to pop your clogs and leave your nearest and dearest to hunt the will, bank statements, insurance policies, etc. The period immediately after a death is difficult enough, without all the hassle of trying to find things that have been carefully hidden away and no one has a clue where to look for them.

Even if you do nothing else in anticipation of your demise (and most people would rather not think about it, I know), let whoever will have to deal with the practicalities know where you keep your important papers.

The most recent funeral I conducted was for a bachelor who died suddenly, alone at home. His family had no idea where he kept everything. I expect they're still sorting through his stuff. When there are drawers full of old letters, you can't just chuck them out, in case there's something important in there.

When my mother died, it took me days to find her jewellery. She'd wrapped individual pieces in tissue paper and put it all in a supermarket carrier bag hanging from a hook on the back of her bedroom door. I suppose her reasoning was that it would be the last place a burglar would look. I almost threw it out, thinking it was rubbish, after days of sorting through over seventy years' worth of stuff.

Make a will. Don't wait until you're past retirement age. It's especially important when you're married or just living together, and essential when you have children. You may not have any money, but there may be insurance money as a result of your death as a result of accident or illness. You can appoint a guardian or guardians for your children, so that people you trust will be responsible for caring for them if you die. Will you want a brother with a rather casual approach to health and safety to look after them, or a close female friend who won't let them run amok? It's up to you.

However, there's not much point making a will if no one knows about it, or where it is. So tell someone! Then you can get on with the business of living, and need say no more about it.