Last night’s sermon was given by Rabbi Shawna (I”ll link it here once she posts it) and dealt with death. She was basically building on the notion that Yom Kippur is preparing one for one’s death. Setting the accounts straight, so to speak. Her theme was the things that you need to do now to prepare for your death.
Much of what she discussed was practical device designed to make life easier for those you care about when you get older and cannot make decisions, or when you are no longer there to make decisions. This included the following items, which I presume that everyone is doing (if not, do it):
- Make an Advance Directive . Figure out what life-saving measures you do and do not want when you are in the final stages of life. Respirators. Pain killers. Intubation. Life support. Investigate all of these things and decide what you want. Write those instructions down, and make sure you children and trusted confidants know where to find the information.
- Make Sure Your Children Are Addressed. Have children or others you support or take care of? Make sure you leave guardianship and care instructions.
- Boxing It Up. How do you want to be buried: fancy box or plain pine? What type of service? What cemetary? If you can, pre-pay and make pre-need arrangements, and make sure your loved ones/confidants know where your instructions are.
- Heirlooms. Do you have family heirlooms your kids will be fighting over. Make sure you leave clear instructions on who gets what.
Shawna also discussed the importance of leaving an Ethicial Will: Ethical instructions you want to pass on for future generations on how to live, and the values to have. More importantly, she stressed that even more important than writing your values down is living your values and teaching your children through your actions. She put it this way:
The way you live your life is how you will be remembered.
This is a very important thing to keep in mind.
However, Shawna forgot two important things:
Clean Your Room. Yom Kippur helps you deal with the spiritual junk you accumulate. You should also work to clean up the mental junk: all those grudges you hold, all the bad attitudes. Get rid of those now, before your children have to deal with the impacts of them on your friends.
More importantly, when you die, someone will have to dispose of all that physical stuff and junk you’ve accumulated. All those papers you’ve kept. All those photos. All those files and collections. All your furniture. All your tchotchkes. We’re still disposing of stuff from my dad 10 years ago! Make your children’s life easy and declutter now! This will also make it much easier for them when you have to move into assisted living or senior living (and more and more are doing).
Here’s an important postscript to this: Remember to clean your porn stash. Yes, most people have one and never admit it. Your children discover it while cleaning your house when you die, and no amount of brain bleach can get rid of those images.
The Electronic World. If you’re like me, you have a large electronic life. Accounts at banks and other financial institutions. Passwords to your email and social accounts. Obtaining access to these things is difficult when you die or become incapacitated, and increasingly they are required to keep paying your bills. Here’s my advice: (1) Get a password manager, such as Lastpass. (2) Make sure your children/trusted confidant has the key passwords they will need — the password to your account on your computer, the master password to your password manager, and anything else they might need to get to the password manager (such as your phone unlock code). (3) Make sure they know how to answer those pesky security questions, or keep a list of them and their answers as a secure note in your password manager.
Additionally, clean your room. Have instructions to your loved ones on how to disburse your electronic files as appropriate. Clean out all those electronic files that go back to the days of MS-DOS that you will never use again. And for heaven sakes, get rid of that digital porn stash as well — or at least encrypt it so they just delete it. A digital stash is better than those disgusting magazines you have under the bed or in the file in the garage, but still … oh, I need that brain bleach!
Shawna said, “The way you live your life is how you will be remembered.” I’ll add to that: The last impression you leave for your children is the junk you leave behind that they have to clean up. Make sure they don’t need the brain bleach and the mental floss.