You’re either fascinated, unfazed or terrified of this crazy thing called death. If you’re someone who avoids the subject at all costs, it can be difficult when the people around you have other plans. For example, have you ever visited an elderly relative, only for them to ask which of their paintings you want to inherit when they die? Like, slow down – you’re not dead yet! Most people actually like to run away from conversations about death. But if there are question marks in the air – it’ll all be left to the people you love most to make tough decisions at a stressful time. Here’s why talking about death sooner rather than later can be beneficial:
It helps you deal with anxiety surrounding death.
It’s kind of like talking to a psychologist and feeling a cathartic release post-session. Talking about death can release a lot of anxiety around the topic. This might be anxiety about your own eventual death, an early death, a near-death experience or worrying about the death of people you love. This is quite common, but it can also be extremely paralysing and has the potential to affect your day-to-day life. (When this happens, it helps to see a medical professional who can give you strategies to deal with these thoughts and feelings.)
It sets a plan in motion now, so no one has to make the tough decisions later.
There’s a whole lot of paperwork that comes with death. Like a fire care plan, everyone should know what needs to be done in the event that someone dies. Difficult decisions will have to be made, like where their final resting place will be, or who needs to be informed after-the-fact. Families will need to know where you keep important documents like your Will, insurance policies, medical records, bank statements and more. They are going to need these kinds of things to close accounts and to deal with all the paperwork that death dishes out. Basically, it’s called paperwork for a reason. (It’s a lot of work).
It can be extremely healing.
Particularly for people who are battling terminal illnesses, it can be healing for those who are reaching their final stage of life to plan their own deaths. Rather than avoid the topic and leave it to the last minute, people are able to make their own arrangements. For example, they might want to attend their own living wake and hear their own eulogies. They might want to plan their own celebration of life, where everyone might wear their favourite colour, or where specific artists or genres of music are played. It can also be healing for friends and family to be involved in this process.
Most people don’t plan for death, and so when it happens, it all becomes chaotic and overwhelming. After the death of a loved one, it’s extremely difficult to tackle anything other than your own grief. If everything is discussed and planned beforehand, then there are fewer things to process and organise during such a stressful and emotional time. So talk about it all now and put an action plan in place. And if it all gets a bit too much, enlist a professional to talk it all out.