The R.I.P. Bucket List
Applying Kindness to the Bitter End
Do you remember The Bucket List? It’s a clever movie that prompted millions of us to think about all the things we’d like to experience and accomplish before our time is up. Among a multitude of other things, my list includes completing the New York City Marathon (done), learning a new language (trying) and waving a flag from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (not yet).
During my years as a death investigator I encountered scores of people who had made tidy lists of all the things they wanted to do with their lives, but neglected to even mention what they’d like to have done after their death. This is understandable. It is, after all, one of the most difficult topics for most people to even think about, never mind discuss.
Trust me on this: as challenging as the conversation is, having the Here’s what I’d like to have done after I’m gone talk is one of the most thoughtful things that you can do with and for those closest to you. Too many families have been completely torn apart over differing points of view about what to do after a loved one dies.
In an effort to make sure that you don’t have a bitter ending, I’ve created The R.I.P. Bucket List, a 3-step approach to help you Rest In Peace.
R – Resolve in your own mind what your preferences are. Do you favour the act of burial or cremation? Are you for or against organ & tissue donation? Do you want to gift some or all of your body for scientific and medical research? Would you rather have a traditional funeral or a modern celebration of life? These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself. In order to find the answers you’ll need to explore your personal, spiritual, cultural, familial, and religious beliefs. There is no right or wrong here, it’s a matter of soul-searching to find the answers that you feel the most comfortable with.
I – Inform others of your decisions. Once you have determined in your own mind what you’d like to have happen, it is imperative that you let those closest to you know your desires. Talk it over. Hear what they have to say about it. And remember, you don’t have to be old, sick, or dying to have this conversation. In fact, it’s beneficial to broach the subject while you’re well, clear-headed, and objective.
P – Put it in writing. Saying something is one thing, documenting it is another. Writing things down makes them more real and ensures that others will know with clarity what you want. It’s human nature to become very emotional after someone dies; having things on paper will help tremendously. And you can always change your mind. If you do, simply let people know and update your list.
As tough as this exercise may be, I encourage you to look inside yourself, ponder your options, and share your thoughts with those closest to you. It will save you and others pain in the long run, and it’s the kind thing to do.