Walsh's Wonderings - Planning to plan

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I lost another friend today. The fact that I’d never met Chuck in person doesn’t make it any easier. I’d met him in a Christian fellowship meeting on Zoom in the middle of the COVID pandemic, and I was immediately impressed by his calm, wise demeanor and outlook on life. He brought me closer to God even as he unknowingly drew closer to meeting God.

He was the second friend in two weeks whose final days were spent surrounded by family in homebound hospice care. There’s something about watching someone putting their affairs in order while hooked up to monitors designed to gauge how much life one has left that cuts through all the static of daily living. It also forced me to revisit my greatest fear I have about my own death: taking care of the people I love when I pass.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be writing about my journey to address and (hopefully) conquer this fear by seeking out opinions, assessing my current state of affairs, and doing the legwork I’ve always been so reluctant to complete. It’s my hope to dispel a few myths and inspire others to undertake some of the critical steps in securing both their assets and the control over end-of-life decisions that will dramatically affect their family and friends long after their passing.

For now, though, I’m just processing how quickly the time goes. When I first created a simple plan 11 years ago that paid for a prearranged wake, funeral, and party afterward, I didn’t realize all the things I didn’t know. So many things have changed since, from tax laws to insurance issues and medical interventions, I found myself tossing my old notes and starting from scratch.

As I dive into research around end-of-life planning, I get a lot of confused looks and variations on, “Boy, you’re picking fun reading material!” or “Is something wrong that you’re not telling us?”

The fact is that few of us like to dwell on our own mortality, especially in the flower of our youth. (Yes, I still consider myself to be in the flower of my youth…it’s just a very dry and discolored flower.)

However, a detailed plan for one’s passing is simply the logical extension of one’s plans for living. Preparing my will helps my budgeting and savings goals by forcing me to document and account for my entire financial situation. Evaluating my changing insurance needs allows me to collate and assess the effectiveness of the patchwork quilt of coverage I’ve spread over several policies, not to mention how they affect my future retirement. Addressing the questions surrounding my Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives will not only take the burden off my family for the difficult decisions that might arise, but provide clarity on what my desired quality of life really means to me right now.

While none of this lessens the pain of watching a loved one die, knowing one’s financial house is in order allows us to keep the focus on what really matters: celebrating a life well lived. Along the way, we gain some measure of control even as the petals fall from the flower of our youth.

Wherever you are, I hope seeing how my plans work out over the summer makes you smile, Chuck.

Read more at RobertFWalsh.com, contact Robert Walsh at RobertFWalshMail@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.