The Pathological Truth Journal

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Things To Do Before You Die

I am alone now.  There is no one in my life who would know my wishes should something happen to me.  Granted, I’m in my 30s so unless something happens that is unlikely to happen for about 45 years.  Still, things do happen and this life will come to an end.  Having now been on the decision making end I know how painful it is.  Even when you know the person so well that you feel like one soul in two bodies it’s hard.  You want to finish the last jobs and responsibilities as that person would have wanted and not always in a way that makes sense to you.  Even being married we have our own hobbies and separate accounts for all sorts of things.  So, I have put together a list of things to do before you die so to ease the burden for the people responsible for wrapping up your life.  All of this feels morbid when you are writing it up but I can not tell you how hard it is for your spouse or family to think straight while grief stricken.

1. Get a will.  Even if you don’t have anything to give away this will help because there is no other way to deal with Paypal.  (Yes, I am still dealing with them.)  In all seriousness, having a will if you are not married is the easiest way to deal with everything and keep people from fighting.  If you are married most states have laws in effect which make the spouse the automatic beneficiary of everything.  Remember that probate is long and expensive and people will be hurting while going to court.

2. Plan your funeral or at least how you would like your remains dealt with and write it down.  Keep it somewhere safe but accessible.  Most people don’t care all that much about how their funeral is conducted.  That’s true for me and it was true for my husband.  However, when people love you they want to give you the funeral you would have wanted.  Even knowing that a funeral or memorial service is for the living doesn’t quite make that feeling go away.  It doesn’t need to be an elaborate plan but decide whether it’s cremation or burial, if you would like a certain denomination of church and maybe some music.  That takes a lot of the burden from your loved ones of wondering whether they made the “right” decision.

3. Write down your passwords and keep them somewhere safe.  I mean all of the passwords.  You obviously don’t want this where it can be stolen in case you are robbed but this is important.  People often don’t realize how their online accounts are tied to other financial accounts.  It is best to close everything when possible.  That way an email account can’t be hacked and used to get into the person’s Amazon account and use their Paypal account.  Even when debit cards, credit cards and bank accounts are closed there is generally an offer for an Amazon card or a Paypal “pay later” option.  The person responsible for your estate will then be responsible for that hassle.  And be sure to write in your will specifically about Paypal.  Paypal will want to see that.

4. Take pictures.  My husband hated pictures of himself.   I understood that since I feel the same way.  It’s different when you can’t see that person anymore.  I don’t have a strong visual memory anyway and I am afraid of forgetting him.  Let people take your picture.  (Just ask that they not post it anywhere.)

5. Figure out how to deal with a collection.  My husband was a collector.  He wasn’t a hoarder.  I mean he had a collection of rare items.  He told me to sell them off if something happened.  I appreciate that because now I don’t have the guilt or feel the need to hang on to every single piece.  If you do collect stuff you might want to take it a step further and leave a plan for how to deal with it.  Some things make sense to sell on Ebay but other items don’t work there or are very expensive and should go to an auction house.  Don’t expect your loved ones to know the difference between something priceless and junk.

6. Have your spouse on the bills and have a joint checking account.  Most spouses have a joint checking account but for a few years my husband and I didn’t.  It wasn’t out of animosity but it was the way things worked out.  A joint checking account means there are more funds available.  I was not named on a couple of the utilities when he died.  Again, not out of animosity but because my husband worked from home most of the time and just signed everything himself.  Most utilities are pretty easy to deal with.  People die and they have a procedure to either close the account and get one in your name or transfer responsibilities.  However, remember that this is one more thing your spouse needs to do when they are already not thinking quite straight.

7. Don’t be a dick and deal with your problems when you are alive.  If you have problems in your marriage deal with them.  Your spouse will read your journal.  Your spouse will find out if you signed up for cheating websites.  I found out a few days after my husband’s funeral that he flirted with someone online.  He had also written about it in his journal (that he felt it was wrong but still).  I ripped those pages out and burned them.  I nearly torched the whole journal.  Why?  Because I was already insecure, angry and terrified without him.  Add to that any possibility that maybe he didn’t really love me and I just went nuts.  Thankfully, this was an example with no basis for those insecurities.  Imagine if there really was something going on.  I can not begin to tell you how almost insane with grief a person can feel when losing a spouse.  If you are a liar you will be found out eventually and your spouse will be left in the deepest confusion, anger and fear.  All of your issues will be magnified and given to your spouse when you die.  Deal with your life while you are living it and get help if you need it.

8. Tell your loved ones that they are loved.  If you can write down a message for people you love.  You will not believe what a difference that makes.  This isn’t an excuse to not love people while you live.  You can’t be a complete jerk and then leave someone a note saying that you feel the opposite of your actions.  Love people while you are alive too.

9. Understand that all of this is morbid and most people don’t want to talk about it.  My husband and I joked about death sometimes.  Those jokes make me feel bad now and I hope he never believed for a moment that I was serious.  We never did talk about how either of us would want every arrangement handled even though he had heart trouble in the past.  It’s so hard to think of ourselves as mortal.  No one wants to think about losing someone or losing their own life.  But it is going to happen.  If you can afford to get an attorney that is a great option since it is legal and you don’t need to put your loved ones through the hassle.  If you can’t afford an attorney then take some time to write some stuff out and just keep it somewhere safe.  Then, after you are finished writing, go and hug the people who love you.

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