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Shrink Laureate

“Trixie hates to interrupt a good monologue,” said Trixie, interrupting a good monologue, “but maybe we should continue it somewhere not on fire?”

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On the event of your death · 1:30pm January 21st

Recent events (which I won't go into here) have got me thinking about the subject of readiness for death.

You will die. We all do, at some point. If we're lucky, it's at a ripe old age when we've done all the things we wanted to do; but not everybody gets to be that lucky. The stupidest little thing can upend the life we take for granted. And when we finally do pop our clogs, some poor sod is going to have to deal with all the stuff we leave behind.

You probably think this doesn't matter yet, that you've got years before it'll be relevant. I hope that's true.

So here are some things to think about, and possibly act on. The list is as much for my own benefit as anyone else's, because I haven't done a single thing on it.

Standard preface: I'm not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, just a suggestion for things to think about. The actual law varies by the country / state where you live.


Have you made a will?

Have you proofread your will to make sure isn't full of typos and nonsense? Seriously. The whole legal profession coasts along making easy money because nobody actually reads contacts, wills and other official documents and realises just how badly written they are.

Does anybody know where to find your will?

Who are your executors? These are the people who actually act on your will, making sure things are distributed as you say they should be. If you don't set this down, it probably defaults to your parents or spouse. Pick somebody you trust, and who has their shit together. Being an executor is pretty stressful, so don't dump it on somebody fragile.

Have you established lasting power of attorney? This is a statement that allows a chosen person to make vital decisions on your behalf, such as permission for medical procedures. If you don't do this, the decision will be made by the poor doctor who's been working for 48 hours and just wants to get to sleep soon.

Have you given clear instructions how you'd like to be treated, or is it up to your relatives to shoulder that?

If you live in a country without a real health care system, like the US, your medical care will cost money. Who's paying for that?


Where are all your bank accounts? What savings do you have squirreled away? What debts do you have? Your executors will need to find all these things, and notify the different banks to get them to release the money.

If you own a house, will all your bills be paid in your absence? If you rent, will the rent be paid?

What regular subscriptions do you have that will need to be cancelled?

If you have life insurance, who is going to claim that? Do they know about it? What evidence do they need to provide? What conditions are there? Insurance companies love not paying out.


Funerals cost money. Who's going to pay for yours?

What sort of funeral do you want? Religious or not? Dour and serious or bright and uplifting? Who knows what you'd like, and will your instructions reach the right person in time.

Who needs to be at your funeral? Will they be contacted?


Who will need to be told when you die?

Does anybody actually know your employer's name and phone number? It's easy to take for granted.

What communities are you part of? Will your online friends ever know what happened to you, or will you just disappear one day?

Are there any messages you want to leave behind? Things you've left unsaid, things you can't say while you're alive.

All the projects you're working on -- the stories you're writing, the software you're creating, the artwork you're making, the events you're running, the communities you're supporting -- what will happen to them? Who will take over? Will they fade away, or will they be your legacy?


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Comments ( 12 )

This squared. Been there with mom.

I really ought to get on with this. One thinks of it now and then, usually while driving home at 5:00 in the morning, but a good day's sleep puts it out of mind again.

Fie, now you've got me all dour-minded.

Author Interviewer

You will die.


Important questions. Thanks for bringing this up.

I wonder if the fimfiction average age has been ticking up? Back in 2014, this would have wildly off point, as the average writers' age was something like 18 or so.

Now? I just read a story from GapJaxie's 'Joy of Childhood' speedwrite contest about Rarity, at Cookie Crumble's wake, venting at Applejack about how much it sucks having to be the adult in the room all of a sudden.

Oof. Hits close to home, but totally important advice. Even if not for younger readers (but even then they can take it to older parents/ grandparents).

I loved my father but he was as curmudgeon about paperwork as he was about taking care of himself. We couldn’t even call his work or boss and his work phone was locked. By happenstance it wasn’t until they called after four days wondering where he was did we get hold of them. A little thing like a phone number on a paper could have saved that stress.

The life support decision was also one of the hardest we had to make. Everyone should write down their decisions because that guilt haunts family no matter how many times you tell yourself “Well it’s what they would have wanted.” Give your loved ones peace that they know 100% what you want.

Thanks. These are things that I need to get on with, and it's good to have someone compile a list.

I've really only put considered action into the social part (an email draft with a list of people/places to notify), and that's... not really complete (no system set up to direct people to the email draft). Though I did also have an advanced medical directive set up at the suggestion of some friends in medical school (which might still count as considered action, but it wasn't something I initiated or did most of the work for myself). One of those things I know I should probably take better care of, but not the only or (very hopefully!) most urgent thing in that category.

I am terrified of death. But these are all good things to think about.

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