Death Chatter. What an interesting concept! Although I work in the death industry, I hadn’t really considered whether there are other people who may enjoy or even be fascinated by the concept of death as I am. A friend once told me that I like to talk about death too much. I guess she is right. But apparently, I’m not alone, as last Thursday, Toronto, held its first Death Café, which is reportedly part of a global movement for people who gather in an informal atmosphere to talk about dying over tea and cake. The café’s objective is to help people overcome the cultural fear around death and encourage them to make the most of life.
In the world of estate planning, I frequently run into people who are afraid to talk about death and who consider it morbid and taboo to discuss it. Some have even said that they feel as if by making a will, they will hasten death’s arrival at their door. The reality is that I have prepared and executed many wills and estate plans for clients and thus far, very, very few of them have passed away. Furthermore, one’s comfort level with the notion of death depends on one’s values and beliefs about it and what, if anything, happens after death. As many will agree, much of the fear surrounding death has at its root uncertainty about the unknown and the fact that it is conceptually difficult to understand.
One of the Death Café’s objectives is to help people examine what is truly important in life and, thereby, prepare for death. As alluded to in our firm mission statement, the components of readiness for death, will look different for each individual, as they examine their values, beliefs, objectives, family dynamics and other relationships and special needs. This will include consideration as to what types of legacies and heritage they wish to pass on. For most who consider the passing of a legacy or heritage as a part of preparing for death, their consideration will include examining how best to transfer wealth, culture, a particular trade, skill or craft, language or moral and religious convictions. This list is not exhaustive.
Moreover, transferring a heritage will mean sharing one`s life stories and touching close family and friends in very real and tangible ways, both before and after death. Essentially, the more a person feels that they are able to live out their values, the more they will experience an intimate sense of readiness for death.
In contemplating death, many will take stock and ask themselves how they will be remembered if they were to pass away today. If they strongly dislike the answer or realize that there are some things they would like to accomplish before they go, they will set some goals and make changes in their day-to-day living towards those ends.
Here, I remember once again, Apple co-founder, inventor and visionary, Steve Jobs. Regardless of whether you are an Apple fan or not, Steve Jobs certainly left his mark on the world – a gigantic technological heritage that is undeniable. And there are so many other examples of people who left great heritages for us to ponder, enjoy, live by and strive towards. So…even if thinking about death makes you uncomfortable, I still encourage you to consider what type of mark or heritage you want to leave for those within your sphere of influence. It could not only lead you to make some positive changes to your life, but the journey of dreams, visions, plans and implemented steps has potential for great personal satisfaction—enough potential to move you to take a step…or two or three.
If you wish to discuss how best to leave a legacy, whether through a will and estate plan, or a dream or vision for which you need help to make a reality, please contact me, Andrea Kelly. I have a wonderful network of knowledgeable and talented professionals who are ready to assist you!
Andrea Kelly, Lawyer, has extensive experience in wills, trusts, powers of attorney and estate administration matters. She provides clients with a high standard of timely professionalism and expertise, incorporating a very thorough fact finding process. This is quite often enlightening for her clients and facilitates individually tailored services. If you would like to know more, feel free to use the easy contact form or read Andrea’s bio.