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“Prepare the umbrella before it rains.”

– Malay Proverb

Death is normal and a part of life. It eventually happens to us all. Here at Dying to Understand, we know that there is never a good time to die and that dying is filled with many challenges. We respect and acknowledge the loss of a life that is ending. That is why we are here—to educate and learn about dying so that it may be easier for those who follow. In our research we have learnt that death education has been poorly done—we can do better.   

There are physical things to know about dying such as pain medication and symptom control. There are powerful emotions at work and understanding them is essential. Spirituality looks to the future, and then there are the simple practical things of getting our affairs in order.

We know how vital it is to prepare for important events in life such as weddings, graduations, or even holidays. In the same way it is important to prepare for dying. The superstition that preparing for dying will make it happen sooner is not true. What is true, is that not preparing for death will be a disaster. 

Here are some important things to do. We owe it to the ones we love to do this preparation. Please let us know what we have missed.

Personal

When it comes to dying, we can never be too prepared. Death has a way of being permanent and anything left undone remains undone. There is a lot to do, but don’t get overwhelmed. Make a list of things that need to be done or organised, and use our tool to help make sure you’ve got it all covered.

Legal 

When it comes to death and dying, expressing your views via legally supported documentation is essential. Usually, these legal documents take the form of testaments and wills, a power of attorney, estate planning and other matters your lawyer may consider. Whatever you do, try to avoid doing it yourself as it won’t survive if the vultures come, as they do, after death. Money spent on good legal documents and advice turns out to be cheap in comparison to drawn-out court cases when someone contests a will.

Estate Planning & Financial Matters

Even though you cannot take it with you when you die, you do want to ensure that your assets are protected. Seeking financial advice about estate planning before dying is essential. Why pay unnecessary tax and fees if you can avoid it. Seeking professional help to ensure your estate and other assets are safe and directed where you want, is of utmost importance for both you and your family or friends.

Medical

Stay in control even when you are not. When your health is fading, and death is nearer, medical care will undoubtedly increase and your wishes associated with this care are important.

Important things to consider to support the dying process are advanced directives, resuscitation instructions and, most importantly, exploring the benefits of palliative care. It’s important, for living and for dying, to be informed.

Funerals and Cremations

After death comes the funeral or the farewell. Most people think of funerals or cremations negatively. They are not bad, they are events that play an essential function in society and are an important part in the dying process in that they honour the life lived, deal with grief and, most importantly, dispose of the deceased body. 

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