If I should die before I wake… By Mae Catherine Godhigh

Remember our childhood prayer?

Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

If I should die before I wake, I pray to God my soul to take.

Spring signals the season of new beginnings. It’s also time for spring cleaning, planting flowers and gardens. It’s time for soul talk. What happens if you should die before you wake? Ask yourself; is your house in order? Like the oxymorons clean coal, alternative facts and good poison, there is no such thing as a “free funeral.”

A Final Wishes Planner should be easily located in your home. It should include your insurance policy papers, your choice of mortuary, your will, certificate of benefits, checking/savings accounts information, retirement account records, auto registration or titles, property deeds or liens, bank statements and other important financial papers. Do you have a Living Will? What if you are coded? What about resuscitation? Do you have a Power of Attorney? Here are some tips to assist you with your final wishes.

1. Please make sure your personal information can be easily accessed. Location is important. It can be in a fireproof file cabinet or in a safe deposit box. Make sure your Name, Address, City, State & Zip Code is included.

2. Your Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Divorce Papers, Military discharge papers, Social Security Card and Tax Returns.

3. Upon your death, a list of people to be notified and their personal information.

4. Your Church, Synagogue, Mosque or other House of Worship.

5. The name of your Pastor, Rabbi, Imam or other religious contacts.

6. Got Pets? Prepare a list as to who will care for them.

7. What are your Final Arrangements? Is your Pre-planning complete? It should include the following information:

a. The person or persons in charge of your service. It’s okay to even design and write your own obituary. Who can tell your story better than you?

b. Do you want a traditional burial or cremation?

c. What is the location of your final resting place?

d. Designate where all memorials should be forwarded.

e. What are you wearing? List you favorite outfit, jewelry or other special items.

f. Make a list of family members and special friends to be acknowledged at your service. Also, a list of folk who you do not want to speak at your service is equally helpful.

g. List your favorite colors, flowers, special requests, prayers, songs, scriptures or readings.

h. Are you having a repast or reception? List the location. Remember neither is mandatory.

i. If you have social media accounts, list your co-administrator. This individual may maintain or delete your accounts?

Dear Hearts, this is not a time to be secretive or mystical. I’ve personally witnessed, during funerals, families raise enough stink to peel the paint off the walls. Your responsibility is not to die unprepared. Your failure to prepare will place a great deal of stress on your family, your religious institution and funeral directors. Or even worse, it could leave your family with many problems, including legal.

Instead of hoping to stumble upon a pauper’s service or a Go Fund Me Account, why don’t you get up and go take care of your final business?

The holidays are a good time to have these discussions with family members. Instead of having the primary focus on gift giving include limited discussion about final wishes. It is time out for living with uncertainties.

Before you close your eyes tonight, ask yourself, if I should die before I wake?