Death is topic that we tend to tiptoe around, especially in the Black community. It’s a sensitive subject that can sometimes be so uncomfortable to talk about, that we don’t discuss final preparations at all. Sometimes, we’re so busy with our lives that we don’t even think about death. Not to mention, no one really wants to. Unfortunately, being unprepared for the inevitable can lead to even further stress for loved ones when the day comes.
When a family member or loved one passes away, the last thing the ones they leave behind should have to do is worry about legalities. Of course, most people don’t know when their time will come. That’s why planning ahead is so important. It can relieve the burden on close relatives and friends who should be spending their time properly grieving. And especially for those with children, it can ensure that their grieving process is as healthy as possible.
Planning for the future makes a difference in the quality of life that’s lived before death, as well. Those who’ve arranged final preparations can ensure that their loved ones peacefully pass according to their own wishes. It also gives them the opportunity to receive quality care in their final moments. It can mean the difference between a loved one being surrounded by family in the comfort of their home versus in a hospital. It also considers whether relatives should prolong the life of someone who may be suffering but unable to advocate for themselves.
Final preparations aren’t easy, but they’re necessary. Here are some tips for how to plan ahead so that loved ones can make their final departure in peace:
Have A Sit Down With Loved Ones
When approaching end-of-life discussions, families should be mindful of each other’s wishes regarding how each member would like to go.
Getting together as a group to go over important details such as wills and estate planning can help guarantee that there are no surprises or hurt feelings after losing a loved one.
To ease the heaviness of the conversation, create a lighthearted environment that focuses on celebrating one another. Many families choose to have a family dinner or get together for a potluck as an easier way to broach the topic.
Remember that it’s okay to disagree. Because of the sensitive nature of the subject, emotions may be high. Still, it’s better to work through the hard stuff in the present than have to worry about it after a loved one passes. It’s important to end the conversation on a positive note. Examples of this can include praying, singing, or simply hugging it out. Going out to eat or to a special event gives loved ones something to look forward to after the discussion and allows everyone to leave happy.
Get Started On Preparing A Will
Having a will can guarantee that any properties and assets belonging to the deceased are split between loved ones as they intended. Not preparing one oftentimes leads to disagreements between family members as they fight for the rights to deceased’s possessions. As a result, many relationships become strained, leaving loved ones in even deeper emotional distress. After preparing a will, it’s helpful to go over its details with family members to avoid unnecessary confusion and bickering after a death.
Children who have lost a parent are especially vulnerable of being taken advantage of because they typically can’t advocate for themselves. Parents can guarantee their children are well taken care of even after death by preparing a will that makes clear what they’re entitled to receive. If a parent dies before their children become legal adults, having a will allows parents to designate a trusted guardian to care for their children.
Set Up A Power Of Attorney
A power of attorney is someone who can legally make important medical and financial decisions on someone’s behalf. Choosing a power of attorney is helpful because in cases where a person is not well enough to advocate for themselves, a power of attorney can and will.
Power of attorneys can be a spouse, pastor, accountant or anyone a person trusts to represent them in difficult times. They can also be removed from their position at any time should a person decide to do so while they’re still healthy. It’s important to select a responsible and reliable power of attorney who will be considerate when making potentially life-altering decisions.
Get Your Finances In Order
A major part of final preparations involves financial planning. It’s crucial that families make provisions for each other in the case of an untimely death. Without proper planning, remaining loved ones are oftentimes left on the hook for many of the deceased’s financial debts.
Gather all financial statement and other important documents such as tax returns, home appraisals and vehicle titles to ensure that loved ones have access to any assets after death. Additionally, there are programs that provide assistance to individuals experiencing loss. Many of these programs are catered towards individuals with unique circumstances such as parents, children and widows.
Consider A Living Will/ Advance Directive
A living will or advance directive is legal document that instructs medical professionals regarding how to proceed with treatment in cases where a patient is unconscious or unable to speak. They’re helpful for determining whether an individual approves certain medical treatments such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, dialysis, or organ and tissue donation among other things.
Without a living will or advance directive, medical professionals can ask close relatives to make a decision on the patient’s behalf. This can cause division between family members who may have conflicting ideas for how to proceed. Living wills give a voice to patients and allow them to be the ultimate decider of their medical care.
Manage Funeral Arrangements Now
With so many things to take into account when planning a funeral, it’s common for those in mourning to feel as though it’s too much to bear. There are a number of considerations to be made regarding funeral arrangements such as where to hold the ceremony, how to memorialize the deceased, or what to include in the obituary. Not to mention, who’s going to pay for these arrangements and how?
To avoid additional stress after a loved one passes, it’s important to prepare funeral arrangements ahead of time. There are many companies who specialize in providing services to help families navigate funeral arrangements including the ceremony, burial process, and even reception. Additionally, various non-profit organizations, charities, and even churches are committed to helping individuals and families pay for their funeral expenses.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.