Most people rationally accept death as a part of life, but when we encounter death through the loss of a loved one (and face our own mortality by extension), coming to terms with dying can be unsettling to say the least. Although it’s hard to imagine ever feeling truly at peace with the prospect of death, these suggestions may help you prepare yourself and loved ones for the realities of dying.
Remembering Your Life and Leaving a Legacy
Proactively planning for death gives you the opportunity to say goodbye in a meaningful way. Whether you are facing a terminal diagnosis, getting older or just want to reminisce, you can memorialize your feelings in several ways. Create a memory book or video to look back at precious moments and people in your life. Write notes or letters for family and friends to read after you are gone. Make amends and reconcile with people you may have hurt, or who perhaps hurt you, to relieve lingering resentment or misunderstanding.
Identify sentimental keepsakes that will be appreciated by those you will leave behind, and update your will to indicate who should get them. Taking this opportunity to ensure all aspects of your estate plan are in order may help you cope, knowing loved ones will be cared for even after you are gone.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About Dying
Many people have a hard time speaking openly about death and may shut down completely at the first hint of the topic. When preparing for death, you and those who care about you will experience a wide range of emotions – anxiety, denial, guilt, anger, ambivalence and fear. Talking through these emotions can help keep the feelings from overwhelming you.
If you are religious, you can talk to your pastor, priest, rabbi, imam or other spiritual leader about death. They can provide you counseling and comfort, and discuss your beliefs around death and what your religious doctrine teaches about dying. You may also consider speaking with a bereavement counselor to cope with anxiety. Feeling anxious about death is perfectly normal and finding someone to talk with you about these feelings is key.
Making Decisions About Death
Initiating discussions about the practical decisions around death may be challenging, but these conversations are vital. If you are dealing with a life-threatening illness, talk to your doctor about the prognosis and what to expect as the disease progresses. If possible, make advance arrangements for hospice or palliative care. Consider creating a living will to convey your wishes about medical treatment if you are later unable to consent. You can also take this time to plan out funeral arrangements.
Accepting the inevitability of our mortality comes to each person in his or her own way, but taking these few simple steps can make the process more peaceful and even rewarding.
Fifth Third Bank does not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax adviser or attorney before making any decisions or taking any action based on this information. This information is provided for educational purposes only and does not constitute the rendering of tax or legal advice.
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