wills and things: how to prepare for the unexpected.

I have a diagnostic thing coming up next week. I have no concerns at all for the actual procedure, or for test results. What completely unglues me, or has, is that matt is not here, which means I have to go out and find someone else to drive me to the appointment, someone to be there to hear the doctor’s instructions while I am too fuzzy to hear. Arrange for someone to come and walk the dog that night so I can sleep. That matt is gone is why I’m getting the full-on knock out, rather than the local, awake-but-not routine.

The other thing that freaks me out is the thought of saying goodbye to our dog. None of us are strangers to sudden random death, and I know full well I could not come back. But honestly, because I am me, the thing that calms me down is (1) remembering that I am not in control of death, and it will all happen when and how it wants: mine, and anyone I care about; and (2), that if I do happen to die during an ordinary procedure, at least people know about it, and my animals will not be here home alone. That is such a fear of mine, that I’d die and no one would know, and my animals would suffer. Bleh. I hate that one. I remind myself: see item #1 and just calm down.

Anyway. Somewhere on my computer, I already have a will written out, such as it is. But I’ve also written out a list of “helpful things.” Matt didn’t have a will. Not only did he plan to just walk off into the woods to die when he was 111, he’d also said, “I don’t need a will – everything would go to my son anyway.”

A will is not just “what should happen to my stuff.” I mean, legally, yeah. But what I’m thinking is how great it would have been, when everyone went crazy in the first days After, to have had a written list: organ donation, cremation, no I do not care what happens to my ashes, and they can be split up however you want. If there are any questions, my love, my son, and my father are the ones who get to think these through. It would have saved so much time, and negated any argument before it even reached my ears.

In my own list, labeled “in case of sudden death or vegetative state,” I specify all my preferences. I also include passwords to my on-line accounts, directions for accessing this blog and how to post on it, names and contact information of people who need to be told, my social security number, and instructions to please not attempt to pay off my student loans (because I know my father would try). Seriously – no one cares one bit about my credit rating now. I do have a short list of where my possessions go, but really, it doesn’t matter much to me – and that is clarified as well.

Having a list would not have made matt suddenly dying any better. Having this list will not make anything better for anyone who cares about me, either. But having this list is a way to love and protect my people now, for the eventual and guaranteed later. In the crazy that comes up in the aftermath of death, no one is thinking straight. Everyone thinks they know what you would want, and they are too distraught to realize they are shrieking for what they want. So there is that – make your wishes clear so that the ones you love do not need to battle anyone, even if you think no one will argue. Especially if you think no one will argue. As for the other things, the passwords and contact lists, sure – they can be found. But I think if Matt could do it again, he would want to give me the slightest bit of ease, would want to show his love by making my way easier, in any way he could.

So this is what I said to my friend, the one driving me to the appointment next week, the one who knows I am freaked out about leaving our dog behind. She asked for my wishes about Boris should I happen to suddenly die; I told her I have left her a list, with instructions and requests. This morning, she sent me a text, saying how she and her husband need to do this too. And all of this just made me think – how preparing for something you never want to happen to the people you love is actually a gigantic gift of love for them. It says that you love them enough to face the reality that you have no control over your death. It says even in this, I will give you evidence of love.


Do you need help getting your paperwork together? provides templates and encouragement to get all your affairs in order before life goes sideways.

How about you? Did you have these life-details completed? How might life have been different if you had? Let us know in the comments.