“The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind.”
~ John Allston
SHARE YOUR STORY
Life can be a challenging, beautiful, unpredictable, heartbreaking, overwhelming, joyous whirlwind of a journey. Despite the uncertainties that lie ahead, know that you will be remembered. We all have an opportunity to determine how others will remember us.
Leaving a legacy is an important, purposeful act that allows us to give our loved ones, colleagues and friends a part of us to cherish, even after we’re gone. How will you be remembered?
There are countless meaningful ways to share your life with your loved ones that are unique and personal to you. These are just a few ideas to get you started.
- Create a photo album of your favorite pictures over the years
- Write letters to your loved ones telling them how much they mean to you
- Keep a journal that can be shared with your loved ones in the future
- Fill out a “Remember Book” with important events from your life and family history
- Create a video or audio tape to share with your loved ones
- Share your favorite books or movies with your loved ones
- Teach a skill or hobby you enjoy to your children or grandchildren
Share your wishes for the end of life.
Although it’s challenging to think of the end of life to determine our final wishes, it’s so important for family members to be aware of your thoughts and beliefs regarding the end of life. We have all experienced the intense impact of grief, and knowing our loved one’s wishes makes the decisions required in the days following loss much less stressful, and more meaningful.
#1 Prepare an Advance Directive: An advance directive allows you to designate a patient advocate to make decisions on your behalf in the event that you are unable to make medical decisions yourself. This document also provides space for you to share your wishes regarding life- sustaining medical action and organ donation.
An advance directive is incredibly important for all adults to have, to ensure that a trusted loved one is put in charge of medical decision- making in case of an emergency, and that they are well-informed on how to best advocate for your wishes.
If you would like a UMHS Advance Directives: Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care booklet one can be provided to you upon your request by the UMHS ALS Clinic social worker.
In addition, another planning resource that can be helpful is the Five Wishes booklet. Use the following link to review a sample copy:
#2 Designate a Power of Attorney: The person you designate in a power of attorney (POA) authorization will have the ability to handle your financial and legal matters in the event that you are unable to do so.
#3 Funeral Preplanning: Sharing any preferences or instructions you might have in the event of your death is a loving, selfless act that eases the burden of family members and loved ones who are often left with many decisions to make in a short period of time. Complete this preplanning exercise along with your loved ones – having a conversation about your beliefs and preferences can be important information to share in case of an emergency.
There are a number of planning tools available; however a popular, comprehensive worksheet that is available for free online is the Share Your Wishes.org Preplanning Worksheet (http://www.shareyourwishes.org/worksheet.pdf).
#4 Write a Will: Here are some tips for preparing a will –
- Working with an attorney is the best way to ensure that your wishes are clearly stated and abide by state
- If you choose to hire an attorney, ask them up front about fees and expenses.
- There are kits available at your local bookstore and/or library with helpful templates and instructions for drafting a valid will. There are also numerous resources available online – however, be cautious and make sure the source is
- Review the responsibilities given to the executor of your will when choosing an
#5 Life Insurance & 401(k) Benefits: Many adults choose to purchase life insurance as a way to ensure their loved ones are financially secure. If you have a life insurance policy, contact your insurance company to find out if you can receive your life insurance benefits ahead of time, given your diagnosis. The same can be true with 401(k) benefits – find out if you can withdraw from your 401(k) without penalty, if you would like to utilize those funds now.