10 things you should write down before you die

Most people are too busy living to think about dying, but a little forethought can make a big difference in how you exit this life.

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  • Most people are too busy living to think about dying, but a little forethought can make a big difference in how you exit this life. Consider the following 10 suggestions as possibilities for easing that final transition.

  • 1. Write down your memoirs

  • — Whether it be in the form of a journal, life history or simply a recollection of random memories, your posterity will be forever grateful that you took the time to write it down. It makes for a wonderful keepsake and will long be treasured.

  • 2. Write down your passwords

  • — In this computer age, we keep separate passwords for every account and change them frequently. If something happened to you, would your family be able to access your accounts to keep them current or close them? Maintaining a small notebook with this information will greatly eliminate confusion and disorganization, even while you're alive.

  • 3. Write down the spiritual highlights of your life

  • — Let's call these the "aha" moments of deep, revelatory understanding and glimpses of complete joy. Why make your children and grandchildren struggle for the same clarity and vision that you've already obtained?

  • 4. Write down the names of the people in your photographs

  • — Having acquired multiple photo albums from my parents and their parents, and their parents, it makes me truly sad to own so many lovely pictures of family (most likely) and not even know who they are. Years down the road, nobody will have a clue who the people in your photos are even though they are perfectly familiar to you right now. Likewise, family heirlooms should be labeled with their histories.

  • 5. Write down your final wishes

  • — It is an act of love to communicate with your family your preferences for the last days of your life and for your funeral. It's quite appropriate to even write your own obituary. This will bring great peace to them in their time of sorrow and stress.

  • 6. Write down your recipes

  • — My mother died before my children were born, but every Christmas morning we feel her near because I make her beloved Christmas breakfast casserole. Recipes that are important to your family can be passed down and revered just as great Grandma Anna's china can be lovingly used for generations to come.

  • 7. Secure a will and power of attorney

  • — According to Suze Orman, financial guru, "A will designates where your assets go after your death. But what if you become sick and incapacitated and need someone to oversee your financial affairs? Arrange for a durable power of attorney - a document that enables you to appoint someone to manage all your financial and legal affairs on your behalf should you become incapacitated. The little extra time and money that go into these steps are well worth it, for your sake and that of your loved ones."

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  • 8. Write down your genealogy

  • — How easy it is for you to remember the names and important dates of your family while each succeeding generation will struggle to find the information that's right at your fingertips. Even if you're not interested in genealogy, there is great worth in keeping a current record for your posterity.

  • 9. Write down how you would like your belongings dispersed

  • — After my mother died unexpectedly, my father had no idea what to do with all her belongings, and his new unsentimental wife simply didn't care. Precious memories were given away haphazardly or were lost in the confusion. Make it easy for those who remain to respect your wishes by writing it down.

  • 10. Express your love and appreciation for your loved ones with written words

  • — Spoken words fade with time, but written words last much, much longer. Every time I read the loving words written by my grandfather in his last letter to me prior to his death, my heart is warmed by his evident love and it's as though he is still here with me.

  • Though illness and death can bring unsolicited heartache and change to our lives, we can soften the impact and reassure our loved ones through the written word. "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing." Benjamin Franklin

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Nancy L.B. Lundgreen is a Tangent, Oregon resident and stay-at-home mom of three.

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