Sorry, I know that might be a bit of a downer and that nobody ever starts a conversation with “can we talk about death for a minute?” but can we, please?
I am a huge champion of having a will. Everyone should have a will, even if you think you don’t have a home or assets, you do have “stuff”. It doesn’t have to be about expensive pieces of jewellery but about the items in your life that mean something to you or have been passed down the family. Mr B mentions in his will, for instance, who he wants the posh pen he won in a competition when he was in his early twenties to be passed on to. Photographs / books / CD collection. Maybe your god-daughter would like your wedding dress, or your best friend you have known since childhood would like your photographs. As much as we don’t want to think about these things, we should.
We should also think about our funerals, which is something I think less of us do than those that write wills. Planning a funeral for a loved one is tough, and has to be done quickly and at the most difficult of times. If you have laid out in writing the music you would like to have played, the dress code you would like your guests to stick to, a favourite poem you would like to have read out it makes things so much easier. Even whether or not you want to be cremated or buried, so many people aren’t aware of those wishes. If you want to be buried, where? Cremated, where do you want your ashes to be scattered? These things are important to the family left behind, they want to get it right, the idea of getting something wrong can haunt people for years. So if you have specific wishes please please write them down and keep them alongside your will (oh and tell people where your will is so it is easy to find).
I have even gone so far as to make a “knicker pact” with my mum in law. We joked that there should be somebody appointed to come in and throw out all the pants you wouldnt want anyone to find after you have gone. You know the ones, the grey ones with saggy elastic. That having a friend come in and clear out your wardrobe of embarrassing items is something we should consider before it is too late.
When I wrote my will I also included who I was leaving my company to. Yes it is the tiniest of companies but if only to shut it down, somebody needs to be in charge. Somebody needs the passwords for this blog, the company bank account, the email account so they can reply to emails or tell PRs waiting for reviews not to hold their breath. In fact, what we do with our digital legacy is a whole other blog post that I have had in drafts for months and really should get around to publishing.
I have long said that I want my ashes to be scattered off a boat in Barbados and that to get there my urn must fly first class because it will be the only time I ever get to do it. Yes I do think that is funny, and by putting it in writing my family know what is expected of them after my untimely demise. Either that or I want to be like the class teddy bear and have my ashes passed around surviving family members houses on a regular basis, taken on adventures and have it all written down in a notebook that is then passed on to the next recipient of me.
This week over on Instagram I talked about how lovely it was to hear a family speaking about their recently departed loved one, after we went to the funeral of a friend’s mum. It was lovely to hear her son (one of Mr B’s friends from Uni) and three of her grandchildren talk in such loving terms about her. Hearing how a lady I had never met had bucked the trend for Indian ladies to always wear a sari, saying that when she was at home she would rather wear trousers and a shirt. That her chaat was the best anyone had ever tasted and would be missed. How whilst never acknowledging her son’s were off to an “English Temple” she would slip them a fiver for the first couple of drinks without saying a word. That chocolate would go missing, squirrelled away and hidden amongst towels in her room for a sneaky treat later on. I love stories like this because now even though I never met this lady i have an insight into who she was and why Mr B’s uni friend is the lovely chap he is.
It made me think that it seems a real shame that we don’t ever get to hear the eulogies our family members or friends make at our funerals. I would love to hear what gets said about me. “No-one could demolish a pint of Martini and lemonade quicker than her”. “She loved to drink tea through a Cadbury’s Twirl but could never admit that to her dad because he worked at Mars for 30 years”. Or maybe even “we would have appreciated her losing a few pounds ahead of six of us having to carry this coffin down the aisle today”.
It made me think that I might write my own eulogy or certainly an introduction to proceedings (I do love a captive audience) and in fact on my Instagram post a friend did say that a friend of hers had done that. She wrote her own speech, along with instructions for her husband because she wanted to have the last word. That just makes perfect sense to me. Not just because there are things I will probably still want to say to my family and friends that I had never got around to saying, but because I too will want to have the last word.