WHEN I DIE FILE

A few months ago, I read about THIS INCREDIBLE ARTICLE about a mother’s love for her children. It’s not the most popular one out there, but it is nevertheless a great way of showing how much you love and care for the persons you’ll be leaving behind.

I especially loved this part of the article, because to put it simply, it’s just so true!

“Ruth’s card file box didn’t make it any easier for the Byock children to say goodbye to her, but it did make handling the material aftermath of her life a lot easier. If you’ve never had to do such a thing, spoiler alert: When someone you love dies, shutting down his or her life can take a year or more. When my father contracted pneumonia and died after years of living with dementia, my sister and I had little insight into the particulars of his life. He’d been organized enough to get his will and trust signed and notarized in his late 60s, but those documents only told part of the story. We had no idea where to find the prenuptial he assured us he’d written when he remarried five years before he died or how to unlock his phone and computer to find contact info for friends and colleagues we knew would want to be at his memorial. 

Instead, we ended up sleuthing through his file cabinet and mail and requesting what seemed like a mountain of duplicate death certificates to prove to various companies that he had actually died. (Make sure to order a dozen copies from the funeral home at the outset, as they’ll be required to close everything—including social media accounts.) It was an agonizing process that took us nearly two years to complete, including hiring a woman who runs estate sales to hawk his belongings—even the multivitamins and sardine tins in his pantry found buyers!—and sell the house.

Another spoiler: Like my sister and I, your kids probably don’t want your stuff. They’ve read Marie Kondo and are trying to rid their own prolific lives of clutter. Sentimental items, especially small ones, are glorious exceptions to this rule. But stuff for the sake of more stuff is no favor.”

That article got me started on my own WHEN I DIE FILE, and yes, I may be “young”, and there may be years ahead of me, but who knows? Life is short and I may not be here tomorrow. So I’m sharing with you my very own list:

  • list of bank account/s
  • list of insurance/s (if you have a family and have no life insurance yet, this is an important thing to have — you can choose a policy that will only be used after your death, or a policy which you can also enjoy even while you’re still alive — so many policies to choose from, and the needs are different per family. for Life Insurance and Investments, you may contact my husband HERE).
  • list of investment/s
  • government issued IDs
  • list of what to do when I die, including selling or giving my things away, and just keeping a few dear to their hearts
  • poems and quotes on death that I personally feel are beautiful, and helpful
  • photos of me, and us
  • books on grief – click to see my list!

One of my favorite quotes on grief: “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. … All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

It’s definitely part of the file!

The thing is, doing this can feel quite heavy. So I took it slowly, and I’m still not done. I still have to add the following:

  • A letter for my husband
  • A letter for my son
  • A letter to my family and friends
  • A worry stone (related to one of the books I have in the box)
  • A note of how i’d like to be buried, perhaps. Or how long is the wake. Have yet to think about this.
  • A list of my passwords — some are already there, but I still have to sit down on this to complete it.

I’m sure I’ll be adding more as I’m given more years. But I’ve started, and that’s enough for today.

How about you? Would you be interested in making your own file? What would you put inside? Any tips?

PS: Of course husband knows about this file, and where it’s kept. But in case we both pass on, can you please make sure this file makes its way to our son? It’s in our attic with a label that says “WHEN MAMA DIES”. Thank you!

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