Your loved ones’ futures
Getting your affairs in order makes death less painful for your loved ones Sometimes death is sudden, caused by an accident, or a catastrophic or undiagnosed medical condition.
In other cases the deceased person has led a very long life, and death comes as no surprise; or is caused by a terminal illness such as cancer or chronic heart disease, which runs its course over a period of weeks, months or even years.
Whatever the cause, and however well prepared relatives and friends think they are, the death itself is invariably a shock, even when it is not a surprise, and the emotions which follow are no less deep or painful. If the death has been expected for some time, grieving may already have begun before it takes place.
Being unable to continue with activities or habitual pursuits formerly shared with the loved one may cause similar feelings of loss and sadness to death itself.
The mixed emotions which frequently accompany bereavement, such as anger, guilt, disorientation or exhaustion, may occur before the death actually takes place.
It is rarely possible to predict how long a terminal illness will continue, and few doctors would be willing to place a time frame on an expected death.
But sometimes when death will inevitably occur within weeks or months, there is an opportunity to prepare: perhaps to enjoy a final holiday, complete unfinished business, or mend broken relationships.
Putting one’s affairs in order is a phrase often used to describe a process of making financial and domestic arrangements which safeguard the future of those left behind.
This could include ensuring the dying person’s will is up to date, placing bank accounts and domestic utility bills in the name of the surviving partner and ensuring that family members are aware of computer passwords and bank details, including PINs.
There is also a chance to ensure that important papers such as birth and marriage certificates, insurance and investment information and car documents are all in a safe place, and that a trusted family member or lawyer is aware of its location. Making a living will which states the sick person’s wishes regarding end-of-life care can make it easier for family members to make difficult decisions such as whether resuscitation is to be attempted, and whether the sick person is content to die in a hospital or hospice, or would like to return home.
A durable power of attorney allows the dying person to name someone to act on his or her behalf for any legal task if they become unable to make decisions about legal matters.
Death is never an easy to thing to face, either for a terminally ill person or family and friends who will be left behind. But the opportunity to make plans can make it less painful and difficult.