Are You Ready to Die?
I asked myself this question after dealing with the loss of a close family member. Sorting through her stuff made me question – what did she want done with these? Her pictures? Certificates? Memories captured on a piece of paper that would disintegrate if not preserved. But did she want it preserved? Or did she want them forgotten along with her? Buried in the boxes and the minds of those who would eventually die themselves. I will never know.
Yet, I wondered about death. Because one never can really tell when that time will come. So am I ready to die? Probably not really but I do know it will happen eventually. I am not ready to die simply because I feel I have “miles to go before I sleep” – aka lots of shit to do. I want to keep learning, keep pushing my boundaries and keeping trying to achieve what I want. Hence I don’t think there will come a day where I say “Ok, done and dusted, time to go”. But I do know that if I am incapacitated to a point of no return, I would prefer the plug be pulled than me living like a shell of myself. I also know that when you gotta go, you gotta go. Sometimes you will never be ready for it.
But in the light of recent developments in Sri Lanka and the world, and with a general existential awareness of life, I would say do the following in preparation.
If you’re single, write a will. Coz once you pop, your assets go to your siblings. If you want it going somewhere specific, write a will. You can always change it later. Just make sure you assign at least 2 executors who are sound in mind and competent. Don’t just assign friends who are disorganised or living in la la land. It’s a nightmare. (Speaking through experience of dealing with such characters). Then leave the will (the original) in a place that can be found. Not hidden in some unknown locker somewhere. You need the original for a hassle free legal process.
Make arrangements for dependents. If you’re a parent – prepare for the worst and set guardians that will take care of your kids. Think wisely – this is not about buddies or just palming off your kids on some relative. Assign people and a backup. Old parents – make arrangements for a home or somewhere. Don’t assume other people are going to do it for you – they are under no obligation to do so.
Plan your funeral – whether you want a cremation or burial and what the ceremony would entail. I already have a few songs I want sung and what I want people to be doing. I don’t plan on having some bloody sober affair – it should be as colourful & vocal as me 😛 Tell someone about the plan – possibly a few people – so that it will be executed. Even things like an epigraph on a gravestone – shape of the gravestone – can be decided by you. Better than people writing some poppycock on it once you’re no more.
Tell the people you love that you love them – there are no major occasions for this. Do it now. Life is too uncertain to be regretting such things.
Stop postponing things – that trip you wanted to take, that person you wanted to reconcile with, that family member you wanted to link up with, that venture you wanted to start. Do it now.
Share the significance of the things you keep and why. So that whoever inherits your stuff knows why it was important and can decide whether to keep it or not. I discovered a decanter with my great grandparents’ initials on it. Did not know this till my mother told me – good thing she saw it. If not I may have given it away. These things are nice mementos. Some are good to keep and some are good to give away. Make sure it’s not a cupboard spending the most time with these items.
Consider signing up to donate your eyes, organs, body etc. for a person who can use them or for medical purposes. That is far better than gifting them to the Earth.
Set goals for yourself – short term & long term – and see how you can achieve them. Don’t wait for death sentences from doctors to start doing this. Even starting a dance class, going walking, swimming, listening to music etc. are all important parts of living. Don’t exist – live and live well.
Forgive yourself. Now. Life is too short and too complex to be hating what is in the past and not healing from it. Go for therapy if required. Releasing yourself from that burden is one step to accepting what is – including the fact that we will die eventually.
The one certain thing in life is death. So here’s to being more open to accepting it and living while we can.