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My final love offering

At the start of Dying Matters Awareness Week, Ann Clifford shares the importance of preparing for death well – and how she made her own preparations this year.

Can I be honest? At the onset of Covid-19 and the rampant nature of the illness that has afflicted people so cruelly, I thought this could be the year I die.

Having written a book about dying and death (Time to Live: The Beginner’s Guide to Saying Goodbye published in 2017 by Instant Apostle) I determined I would prepare well. I didn’t want my children left with a mess to clear up if either or both of us died.

Our wills were lamentably old. Since making them our two had married, and each produced two grandchildren. I had meant to sort them; now I determined to.

On the phone our solicitor talked us through executors, charities we’d like to donate to, what percentage each recipient should receive etc. We covered various ‘what if’ scenarios. If I died first, if my husband did. If my son died what provision for his widow, his children, the same for my daughter. Completed, our wills are now simple, clear and direct.

I filled out an Advance Decision. This makes my wishes known regarding my health and wellbeing. For example, the minimum physical condition I would require to be resuscitated. The fear of death shrouds our country, our whole world, in these times. For me, death is not the worst thing that could happen.

Not about me

I don’t believe my dying is about me; rather it’s about the people I leave behind. My legacy to them is for them to know how passionately I love them and cheer them on. How grateful to God and blessed I am with their presence in my life. However, I can leave relishing the fact I will see face to face the person I have loved for decades.

In the file I have prepared I have included where I wish to be buried; how I would like people not to wear black; that I want them to remember good times. I have also provided other information, such as a list of my passwords. The books on Amazon Kindle remain available to them as an inheritance.

My will also gives them Power of Attorney, so, if I am unable, my children, not the medical profession, have the authority to let me die, if that is the best for me.

When I die they should face no surprises, no unnecessary decisions, but remain free to say goodbye well, to grieve and smile – this my final love offering to them. To remember separation is for a time, and look forward, in faith, to seeing each other again.

We have always talked to our children about our deaths. It’s good to do it when there’s no sense of emergency. When they started divvying up our pictures, we all laughed.

We got Covid, and it was dreadful, but we came through. Many haven’t, and scores remain afflicted. I am so sorry for how much this horrible disease has stolen from so many of us. But we have time to live. We can be brave and live well.

Dying Matters Awareness Week is run by Dying Matters, a coalition that works with partners to break down the stigma that surrounds death and dying. This year the focus is “the importance of being in a good place to die”. 

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