Getting Your Affairs in Order
Not that many years ago, when a patient was diagnosed with lung cancer, the doctor told them, “Go home and get your affairs in order.” Those harsh words carried an almost certain death sentence for the patient. There was no referral to an oncologist. There was no hope.
Today, thanks to recent treatment advances, lung cancer patients are living longer and better lives. Does that mean lung cancer patients no longer need to “get their affairs in order?” No, friends. Do not allow death to sneak up and catch you off guard. Death happens to us all. A good way to exercise control is by planning for it!
There are many preparations adults need to make--especially when they are facing a life threatening disease. (Future articles will address Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Wills.)
While it may be tough to discuss, it's an important topic.
Discuss your final wishes with your loved ones. This is advice for every adult, even those who have NOT been told “You have lung cancer.” We all should HOPE for the best but PREPARE for the worst. I hear people say, “If something should happen…”. It is not a matter of “if;” it is a matter of “when.”
It is heartbreaking to watch people try to second-guess their loved ones’ wishes. These folks are grief stricken and may be vulnerable or fall prey to unscrupulous funeral home directors.
If possible, the best way to handle your final arrangements is to take care of them while you are alive. Thankfully, my father did that. Not only did he make all the arrangements for him and my stepmother, he also paid for everything in advance. The way he paid for his service and mausoleum was by making the funeral home the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. When my father passed, the funeral director handed me papers with detailed plans my dad made, confirmed by his signature. The funeral home carried out all of dad’s wishes--exactly as he wanted and with little stress on me and my siblings.
Making your final wishes known demonstrates your love for your family.
When emotions are turbulent and raw during the period of initial grief, it is too much to expect your loved ones to make decisions about what to do and how much to spend. It’s OK if you cannot afford to prepay. The most important thing is to let your wishes known. Talk about it. Write it down. Do not include your final wishes within your will. There are legal issues that could keep the content of your will undisclosed for weeks or even months after your funeral service.
The document stating your wishes does not need to be anything elaborate. It does not need to be drawn up by an attorney. It simply needs to state your wishes clearly. Be sure to make copies and give a copy to those closest to you.
Make sure they understand your wishes. Do you want your body to be buried or cremated? Do you have a cemetery plot? Do you have special music you want during your memorial service?
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