Will you be ready?

By Nancy Black

Fifteen. That’s how many people I know who died last year. Remarkably, only one was from COVID-19, the coronavirus, which disrupted all of our lives in the year 2020 and has killed more than 300,000 of our fellow Americans so far. 

A few of my friends were old, and some might say it was “their time” to go. A couple of others had terminal illnesses and died in hospice care. But six of them had absolutely no warning that they were going to die this past year.

Their sudden deaths were a reality shocker for me. Not just because of the loss of life. It also brought back the traumatic experiences of dealing with my stepfather’s estate after his death back in 2000. And my mother’s estate in 2016. There were so many boxes, so many books and so, so many boxes of pictures and slides to sort through. 

So, during this past holiday season, as I unpacked boxes of Christmas decorations, I also unpacked boxes I hadn’t opened since I moved back to Dallas in 1996 after living in Hollywood. 

Wow. Anyone want a vintage toaster from the 1980s? Why have I been paying hundreds of dollars a year to store a bunch of old stuff I haven’t seen in decades? I wish I had bought stock in the storage company way back then. 

My goal now is to clear out at least half of the items from my storage shed by the end of January, so I can switch to a smaller, less expensive space. I do not want my children being burdened by the task of sorting through all of my personal belongings, wondering what they should keep, and what they should donate or throw away.

The most important action I am taking though, is to make sure my Last Will and Testament is in order AND that my children know my feelings about end-of-life care, which I have put in writing. I do not want anyone wondering, “What would she want us to do?” I have made my wishes very clear. And you should, too. 

Tell your loved ones now how you want to be treated and cared for, if you should become incapacitated or suddenly face a life-changing diagnosis. And make sure your own will is updated and accessible to your family and loved ones.

Thinking about dying is not the way I usually ring in a new year. But, if the year 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that I should expect the unexpected. So, I am preparing for the inevitable, but staying firmly rooted in today. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!