Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Am I ready to leave you?

Different Spin 21st March, 2014 -revised

Last weekend, I took my family to visit one of the Walls of Hope, an initiative by Malaysians for Malaysia and participating establishments. Patrons are able to convey their wishes and messages of hope on these tribute boards to those onboard MH370. Some gave flowers or balloons; others hung folded purple origami cranes, which symbolizes long life, happiness and peace.

Many are still praying hard.

In times like this, we discover that there are things bigger than ourselves and I am reminded of humanity.

I am also reminded of uncertainties in life – like death.

Forgive me if I rattle you with this taboo subject, especially with the turn of events of late – but let’s face it. Death is the certain destination for all of us, yet most of us go through daily life without any reference to it at all. I can’t blame you. It’s not something we like to see, talk about or even acknowledge. In fact, there are folks out there who refuse to create a will or discuss funeral arrangements, what more talk about events after their death, for fear of tempting “fate”.

I, on the other hand, do not mind discussing death. My mother is probably the reason for this behavior.

My mother, a practical and frugal person, has left specific instructions for her children, to not “waste money” on an expensive casket. She is quite happy with a simple, homemade plywood coffin and her dying wish is to be buried at her hometown with little fanfare, as long as she receives her final rites inside a church.

Growing up, I used to get annoyed when she’d update us with her “this is where the important documents are” talks. Now that I am older and have children of my own, I understand the importance of preparing for the inevitable.

Years back, I showed my “bereavement arrangement notes” to my (then) husband and friends, and they were horrified. They felt I was being morbid and “asking” for death to come quicker. I assured them this was something “quite normal” now, and that they should consider writing a will early, or at least list down and keep all important contact persons and details like insurance policies in one safe place.

Since embracing my new life as a revert, I’ve had to make severe revisions to my “Farewell Notes” (goodbye red nails). My husband is thankfully, very supportive of this move and has decided to do his own, “just in case”.

Why do I do this?

I do this because I want to ease my family’s suffering. The more specific the plan and the arrangements are, the less stress family members will be during that time. God-willing. My two girls are still very young. If I go first, I want to make sure my husband is going to be alright looking after our children. I have even planned a scenario, in the event both my husband and I are taken away at the same time (since we are together most of the time). The person(s) we’ve entrusted as our children’s guardian would have all the relevant documents needed and ready for them.

I cannot help but to stress the importance of listing down personal and medical records of all family members, as well as names and contact details of your insurance agent, healthcare provider, lawyer, employer and if possible, financial particulars including your assets, debts and liabilities. This smoothens the handling of affairs after death.

I have even covered details on plans to donate my organs and when I want them to withdraw treatment should I am left in a persistent vegetative state. I’m realistic like that.

Yes. This is a very touchy subject but at the same time, drawing this list makes me reflect about life and reignites my gratitude and respect for it. I treat my body better knowing how precious life is. I approach life with a healthier attitude and I no longer say YES to everything thrown at me. I’m selective with the people I surround myself with, (negative and mean streak company just wears you down) and I find that I am kinder and more compassionate since acknowledging this pragmatic acceptance of my own death.

I guess, if we just stop asking for impossible immortality and instead, embrace the inevitable, we might find that death doesn’t have to be all that terrible after all.

Daphne’s 6-year old daughter recently asked her about death. Daphne was very pragmatic in her reply. How would you have done it? Tweet Daphne at @daphCLPT or facebook her: DaphneIking

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