Are you Prepared for the Worst? 9 Things We Need to Do to Prepare for Death
A few days ago, on March 22nd, I woke up and checked my phone as I usually do… and instead of the normal notifications I always get, I saw the news of the Brussels terrorist attack. The Brussels Attacks Made Me Realize I’m Not Prepared for the Worst.
My mind raced and brought me back to the days when I spend a lot of time in Brussels, while going to grad school. I would commute back and forth a few times a week from Paris on the high-speed train and as I thought about those times that I ran to catch countless trains during my commute, I couldn’t help but cry, feeling helpless. What kind of world did I bring my child into?
As the morning continued, and I got ready for the day, I couldn’t help but feel scared– a kind of scared I hadn’t felt before. When September 11th happened, I was 20 years old. The following weekend, I was supposed to go to Manhattan for a baby shower. My mom begged me not to go, saying it was too dangerous to go to the city. I, however, told her that life must go on– staying home was exactly what they wanted, to make us live in fear.
Today, I’m 34 and a mother. And I will tell you, for the first time ever, I was afraid to get on that train. I realized the truth– that what happened in Brussels could happen anywhere, at any time. I thought about every time I say good bye to my son, and how every time I say good bye to him could be the last time. We never know what could happen.
Then I thought about all the things that would happen if I were to die in a terrorist attack (or if I were to die period). Specifically about all the things I haven’t done — Guardianship for my son, will, trusts, instructions… I even thought about getting a safety deposit box where I would leave a letter to my son, telling him how much I love him, reminding him to always brush his teeth, take his vitamins, follow his dreams and reach for the stars. I’d tell him that I will be watching him from heaven (even though I don’t know if that is 100% true).
So my mind has been on all the things we haven’t done, I’m definitely NOT ready for the worst, especially if something were to happen to both my husband and myself.
I started thinking about all the things that should be in order in the awful event that I did die in a terrorist attack (or crossing the street).
Get life insurance. This one we have taken care of… it’s so important, especially if you have children and property. If one spouse passes on, then the life insurance money can help the other spouse get back on their feet and it will be one less thing to worry about. Life insurance also protects your children and their children.
Choose a health proxy. Choosing the person and also filling out a medical power of attorney in the case that you can’t make decisions about end of life on your own: for example, deciding if I want to sing a DNR (do not resuscitate) or ask them to use all means necessary to keep me alive.
Write a will and testament. Having a will makes things because there are no unknowns, and you can state exactly what you want. This is especially important if you have children (if there is no will and no guardianship set, the courts get to decide!) and also if you own assets or if you make charitable contributions (or if you want to make them upon death). When you have kids also, you want to state exactly what your wishes are.
Set guardianship for your children. There are many questions to ask when choosing a guardian for your child. It’s best to make it a joint decision with your spouse, of course. It’s one of those things that we don’t want to think about but we have to because it makes it so much easier for those who are left to deal with everything, and the courts do not need to get involved. Here is more handy information about picking a guardian for your kids.
Write down last wishes/funeral requests. What kind of funeral do I want? Do I want to be cremated? Buried? Where? It may seem grim to think about it, but it would be even suckier if you die and no one knows what to do — be like Francesca in the Bridges of Madison County and just detail everything.
Get a safety deposit box. Store important information there… including letters/gifts to loved ones.
Tell your spouse where your documentation is. For certain papers you keep at home, make sure your spouse knows where everything is! At home, my mother keeps all the paperwork organized. If she passed away, I know my father wouldn’t know where anything is– we have to be prepared!
Become an organ donor. According to OrganDonor.gov every day, 22 people die waiting for an organ. Imagine giving the gift of life to another human being (or many! One organ donor can save up to eight lives!) You can get more information here: OrganDonor.Gov
Make and pay for funeral arrangements – If you can do this, it will be helpful to others left behind.
Are you prepared for the worst? What did I miss? What would you add to this list? Leave your ideas below!
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PS. If you’re wondering how to talk to your kids about tragic events, check out my friend Lina’s tips!