GRATITUDE FOR HIS GIFT
My husband died 15 weeks ago. I wrote a book, The Last Gift Box, A Present to Those Who Follow Me
15 years ago. These two things converged and created a perfect storm. When I wrote the book, a guide for getting everything in order before you die, my family was sure I had lost my mind. Who is going to read this? Who is going to buy this? Why would anyone want to talk about death?
In the years since the book published, I have taught classes and I have sold 2000 copies of this book no one wanted, because we all need the push. Do you go to Asia? If you go to Hawaii you buy a guide. We want to know what's to see, where you can go, what you can do? When you die, the people you love need your guidance. Where are your car keys? What bank do you use? Who are your friends? How do you want to die? Do I keep you alive forever and ever? Do you want to die at home with hospice care? Do we sing a songs? light candles?
These are things that need to be discussed now, not when you're on hospice or you're dying in a hospital attached to multiple tubes. We have spent time since I wrote the book discussing the wishes that we both have for how we wish to live and how we wish to Die . We discussed how we wanted to be celebrated when this journey was over. When Bob died, his planning was the greatest blessing he gave his children.
In the hospital when we didn't know if he would survive, we were able to tell the doctors
with mutual certainly, that coming home with hospice was Bob’s desire. He wanted to die peacefully and in comfort in his home. The doctor that had THE talk with us about what was Bob’s prognosis, gathering us in the little room like a Hallmark movie, was shocked that we were all so clear and so aware of what we wanted to do for Bob and with BoB. He said this is when most families have fights, lose control or can't figure out what in the name of heavens they're going to do.
We came home to the unknown day of Bob’s death. We were told we would have 3 to 7 days and BoB lived for almost 3 months. We had plenty of time to think and talk. We also had time to plan the memorial.
What. Bob wanted was not traditional but it was his choice. And we all knew it. He wanted no arguments, no oh my gosh what are we do? Who do we invite? How do we have it? Where do we have it? We did know. That was the best gift he gave us.
The reality of dying is complicated. You better have time and money. My husband was incredibly organized. He also had filled out the Last Gift Box with me, prodding him, and it was truly the best thing he gave me besides my children because I knew what the accounts were. I knew the passwords for the accounts payed automatically through Internet banking. I knew where last year’s tax filing is. If you don't, you can't possibly manage all the required business changes to your life. You have to change your Social Security, your medical insurance. You have to cancel accounts, rename accounts. And don’t forget airline points or tickets not used. Car registrations. Property tax bills. I feel if I get two things completed each day I am being very successful.
Massive Problem -if I had no knowledge of how my husband filed, if I didn't know the password for mortgage payment, I would be in real trouble. My writing this self-serving book, The Last Gift Box, A Present to Those Who Follow Me, is definitely my retirement passion. I'm proud of it. I'm glad I have helped so many people get their lives in order and have the discussions that are hard to have. No one wants to sit and talk about death but I'll tell you, once you have this discussion and you know what you both want and your children want, you can go live your life fully and have a great adventure. You don't have to sit there and question what am I going to do? You have a plan .
The loneliest days are still lonely. The nights can be long. But I feel supported by the knowledge I’m following our guide.
I’m trying to convince our adult children to complete their Gift Box. They are over 18, and I, their mother, cannot make any medical or life choice decisions for them.
Do I know who is to have custody of the grandchildren? Of course, it should be me. I would obviously be the best choice out of all the grandparents and aunts and uncles. However, at 77 I don't have the energy to chase little children. I don't have the energy to go to a baseball game, a ballet recital, a piano recital, and a swim meet in one day. Think about this.
Do I know where they bank, have investments, who is on their ownership papers?
I don’t need to, but they better share that with whomever will be in charge of their estate.
This isn’t fun, as I keep repeating. But it is so valuable a gift to create. I believed it when I wrote it. I have now experienced in real time how important it is.
Share your love. Give a Gift Box that will keep on giving.
And rest assured each night as you go to sleep you have done the best you could on this trip.
As my thank you gift to Bob THE LAST GIFT BOX, A PRESENT TO THOSE WHO FOLLOW ME, is on sale for the first two weeks of December.
The book with forms is $40 - regularly $45
The book of forms only is $20 - regularly $25.
Order on the web site or by emailing me.
May Thanksgiving and the holiday season be filled with gatitude and contentment.