(Originally published Jan. 2016. Updated Oct. 2021.)
I recently (in Jan. 2016) spoke at a business networking luncheon attended by 80 women. My topic was “Who Will Check My Email When I Die?”
I worried that no one would want to come hear me talking about death, especially when it started snowing that morning. But they did! And they loved it. I could tell because they nodded, and laughed, and told me later that they had started conversations with their loved ones about virtual wills and such as a result. Mission accomplished!
Here are some of the ways people reacted to my topic before-hand:
“What do I care who will check my email? I won’t be there.”
No, you won’t, but do you really want to burden your loved ones with things they don’t know what to do with, and without instructions to guide them? Won’t they be grieving your loss enough as it is without adding a bunch of work and tough decisions to their workload?
“Are you trying to tell us something?”
Yes. I am. Not about me, but about all of us. We all are going to die at some point. So we might as well be prepared, no?
“But…don’t you organize closets, and garages, and such?”
Yes. I do. (2021 UPDATE: Or, at least, I did, for more than 15 years. I now specialize in genealogy research for clients!) And why do you think some of my clients call me to help them? They want to make their own lives easier while they are living, of course. But they also don’t want to leave a big pile of clutter for their loved ones to have to deal with if something should happen to them. Which it will, eventually.
I think of these things as a gift to one’s family:
- A regular will and a virtual will …extra credit for writing your own obituary and planning your own memorial service!
- A frank discussion of death and end-of-life issues (both your wishes and theirs)
- A legacy you can take pride in (rather than a pile of clutter no one knows what to do with)
- Memories in the form of organized photos and labeled keepsakes …a well-documented family history is a bonus!
Maybe if you start thinking of these things as gifts too, you’ll be more willing to take action…?
Resource Roundups and New Book
My interest in illness, death, emergency preparedness, photos, keepsakes, and legacies is nothing new. To prove it, I have gathered together all of my related blog posts, and a number of other resources, into a new Legacy Resource Roundup to help you navigate this sometimes uncomfortable topic. My talk at the luncheon consisted of elements from many of these same resources.
2021 UPDATE: Since then, I have since separated my blog posts into three main categories: “Creating Your Legacy” + “Getting Organized For Life” + “Introvert Retreat”
I have also added these new Resource Roundups:
My new book — What’s a Photo Without the Story? How to Create Your Family Legacy — is due out in November 2021.
Talking about death won’t kill you!
Although many people who talk about death break the ice by using the phrase, “Talking about death won’t kill you,” I like how Gail Rubin, of A Good Goodbye, elaborates:
“Just as talking about sex won’t make you pregnant,
talking about funerals won’t make you dead —
and your family will benefit from the conversation.
Let’s get the conversation started!”
Check out Gail’s annual Before I Die NM Festival (Oct. 30 – Nov. 2. 2021. Note that there are both in-person and virtual events this year!) and this YouTube video of me (and a couple others you may recognize) talking at a previous Before I Die NM Festival about Downsizing and Keeping Your Family Legacy. Gail is also the person who first told me about the We Remember memorial site, as mentioned in Planning my own virtual funeral — who’s with me? and “We Remember” our loved ones.
Are you organized for your legacy?
Is this a taboo topic of discussion in your family?
Please share in the comments below!
Copyright 2016-2021 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
Social media links directly to this page are encouraged!
Please contact me for other types of reprint permission.