I’m the first to admit, it was probably a fairly insensitive topic to bring up, especially while we gathered for my sister’s 70thbirthday soiree. But it was a good assembly of family members, so I threw the question out there – “Do you have your obituary photo picked out yet?”
Now realize, these were my family members, ranging in age from 40 – 68, and I knew the response I would get before I asked, and I wasn’t disappointed – plenty of chuckles and guffaws as we dove into the topic. Just for the record, the birthday celebrant wasn’t in on the discussion – even I knew that would have been tacky! Regardless, it was a lively discussion to be sure, and it was especially fun as one family member works for a small town newspaper and commented on the variety of pictures they receive to include with obituaries.
For some reason, my non-birthday sister and I began talking about this as we made the two hour drive to the party. For the life of me, I can’t imagine how this came up as we talked about our gardens, the small towns where we lived when we were children, and the over-development of Madison’s west side. But this is my genealogist sister, so obituaries and family records and research frequently rise to the top of any conversation. Anyway, she laughed when I told her about my plan to have a portfolio of pre-approved photos representing how I want the world to remember me. I know, call me crazy, but I’m controlling as much as I can, right up to the bitter end, which hopefully, won’t be for a very long time.
All kidding aside, the entire issue of end of life preparedness is something no one wants to talk about, yet everyone will face. Moving overseas a few years ago initiated the process for me as I really had to think about this before I ventured off. So…I encourage you to have that conversation with people who will likely be your caretakers, and don’t put it off. Yes, it’s clumsy – pour the wine first if that will help.
I’m always amazed when I hear someone say “Oh, I’m just going to let my kids deal with everything” and I think, how selfish is that. “Everything” can be end of life medical decisions, how to divvy up family jewelry and heirlooms, and for that matter, who gets to trash old files of tax returns dating back to the 1960’s. I always want to say “Are you really going to expect them to have to take extra time off from work or away from their families, or perhaps have to make several unplanned trips because you either thought you were immortal, or you didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings?” And I haven’t even mentioned attorney costs!
Just deal with it; face the music, bite the bullet, get a grip – someday, you will pass to the great beyond, and the less junk and stuff you leave for others to take care of, the more fondly you will be remembered! Years ago, my aunt remarked how well my personal records were organized. I told her “I’m sure I’ll be leaving my house with plenty of vacuuming and dusting to be done. I want to make this part easier for everyone.”
I know people who have selected favorite hymns and Bible verses, though picking out your photos may be a little extreme. But just to be sure, family members, check my top desk drawer – it’s all right there for you.
Pam Sievers says
Alissa, you are not crazy. This is tough stuff to talk about and deciding where one wants to be buried is tough. Wait until U of M wins their first game and he's feeling all giddy, then corner him for a response. Good luck.
Alissa Simon says
I asked Craig the other day where he would like to be berried. We have also talked about prolonging life and a few other things that I have thought about over the years. He always thinks I am crazy but I tell him "You could die tomorrow and if I don't ask then I would never know/" His dad died very quickly in a farming accident and no one was prepared, I think it's better to know.