The last trip plan

Trip planning isn’t for everyone. Planning, in general, isn’t for everyone! But I love it. I don’t like waiting very much, so planning is an active form of waiting maybe? Some enjoy just winging it, getting to a place and seeing what happens. I can do that, but I’m usually fretting about missing out on something or I’m hungry and just want to eat but have no idea where a good vegetarian friendly restaurant is. And there’s the planning what to take, how to get there, and because I travel alone quite often, I usually leave a rough itinerary and other important info with someone who is staying behind. That brings me to another kind of planning…

{{Mom, stop reading now – you won’t like the next bits!}}

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It struck me recently that it had been a while since I visited my plans for that final trip – you know, the one no one returns from. Sure enough, I was still on active duty (ages ago!) the last time I even looked at my will or signed any directives. Circumstances and perspectives have changed, so it’s time to update the “Death Crap” file. That’s the file that I keep copies of stuff for whoever would be so unfortunate to be responsible for my affairs when I can’t. And no, I haven’t had any type of foreshadowing, or walked under any ladders, but being the type of person that likes being helpful, hates causing extra work, and really just generally wants to get stuff right the first time…I’ve got a file. More importantly, I’ve had the conversations.

Kiddo and I had a few good laughs during our last visit talking about my preferred method of bodily disposal and the reasons for it. He’s young and invincible and has never been touched by the death of a close family member, so I had to tread lightly.  I kept it simple. He gets it – and actually agrees that it makes the most sense.

And this stuff isn’t just useful for that last trip…maybe I get kidnapped by aliens, or run off to Bora Bora after winning the lottery, or get hauled in to the witness protection program?  Ya never know!! Here’s what’s in my Death Crap file:

Spare keys: For the lockbox, storage unit, mail box, car, etc. Someone has a set of these for several reasons – maybe I lose mine? Maybe I lock them in the car? Maybe I bump my head and forget that I even have a mail box.

Information: Names and phone numbers of insurance, doctors, dentists (dental records for ID? Or maybe that gold crown will pay off the funeral home!), banks, bills, VA info, storage unit and mail box. What good are the keys if no one can find the stuff?

Power of Attorney: Each state is different in how they issue and honor them – very frustrating! But apparently necessary for both medical and financial decisions if you are incapacitated.

Advanced Directive:  This one is a tricky one. Not all states honor other state’s directives. Not all family members will agree on the particulars (that’s why the conversations are key!) and usually no one likes to discuss this but it’s important if you have strong feelings about how you spend your last days and what happens when you finally stop.  Death with dignity and all that.

Last Will and Testament: Even if you don’t have a lot of stuff, this can come in handy for dealing with kids and any estate settlements.

Final Wishes: This is the part I had some fun with. No one likes to think about death, especially their own. I’m not even real sure it’s the death part I don’t want to think about. I think it’s the immediate aftermath – the hours and days when everyone is finding out and discussing arrangements and eating a baked ham (it’s a Southern thing). So I declared (again) how I wish to be disposed of and what kind of service I did or didn’t want. I suggested some music and locales. I even made a list of folks that should be called since the life of a gypsy means having important friends in different circles all over the world. I don’t expect my mom or kiddo to know how to reach these people or that they even exist.

And there ya have it. That wasn’t so bad, was it? You plan it one time and you’re done. This isn’t all inclusive, of course and everyone has different needs, but this is a good start. And with any luck, only a few bits of it will ever be needed.  Do it. Your left-behinds will thank you! What’s in your “death stuff” file?

4 thoughts on “The last trip plan

  1. Good job Donna! Chad and I are procrastinators and still have to complete our file! Having been through this process with both of my parents I feel that it is one of the best things that you could do for your love ones who are already grieving. It’s hard to think about the little details when all you can think of is how much you miss your loved one.

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  2. Mom said I need to make a will although I don’t really know what I’d put in it except maybe saying who I’d like a few keepsakes to go to. Thanks for the reminder! It would also be good to get a list of doctors & insurance info. & account info. to folks or at least tell people where they can find it. And just the other day I realized I need to remind people of burial preference because mine is different or was from my loved ones. I should have the conversation to make sure nothing has changed. Thanks for the upbeat post about something that can be depressing but needs to be done!

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