Planning My Party

A serious illness or the passing of a family member can be overwhelming.  During a recent serious illness, the doctor told me I needed surgery, but the complications involved made the risk extremely high. My first thoughts were of my family. Although I was preparing myself for it, I felt I needed to do something for my family to make it easier on them.   I still found myself sleepless at night, thinking of all the decisions and arrangements my family would have to make upon my death.

So, I decided to write my family a letter – “What Would Ma Like and Want”. I made a chronological list of how the events would play out and what information they would need.  I told them I wanted the Celebrations of my life to be here in LakeBarrington, not in CT. I provided them with the names and phone numbers of anyone they would need to contact (funeral director, priest, etc.) I also attached a copy of my resume from years ago to aid in writing my obituary. I put all my personal papers such as SS card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, religious certificates and some favorite pictures in a manila envelope. It was very bizarre to pick out an outfit, but I had done that before the idea of the letter occurred to me. There it hung, behind my closet door.  I even went so far as to give them the name of the caterer and where to have my party. No, I didn’t plan the menu although, those who know me well would wonder why not. Obviously, I gave the letter and the envelope to someone near and dear.

I can’t emphasize enough how cathartic it was for me to put wishes and thoughts on paper. Once I stopped mentally writing it, I was able to turn my attention to regaining my health.

The inspiration to write this letter to my family came from a letter received by a dear friend of mine from her father. I highly recommend everyone go through this exercise before you really need to. The Be@Ease process will help guide you through thinking about, and communicating your wishes.  The Five Wishes advance directive document that Be@Ease is using with their program is perfect.  Wish #5 — “My Wish for What I Want My Loved Ones to Know” gets at the heart of “Planning My Party”.

Ann Cronin,
North Barrington