It's hard to think about dying. I do know I will eventually die—we all will. But knowing that doesn't make it easier to think about. If we are hesitant to even think about our death, it makes sense that we also put off the planning that goes along with it.
I recently stumbled on a little book titled, "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning," by Margareta Magnuson. Margareta's words turned my thoughts towards the responsibilities I have to get my affairs in order so my death is easier on my loved on—at least regarding the distribution of my belongings and assets. Her words even helped me find a measure of delight in the process. Really.
Margareta, who writes, "I am between 80 and 100 years old," approached her end-of-life planning with a sense of minimalism, a joy in sharing, and a commitment to not leave a mess for her loved ones. I don't have the same world view as the author as it relates to "the afterlife," but I really appreciate how she turned my thoughts towards the people I love and how to make my passing easier for them.
Now, according to actuarial tables and my latest doctor visit, I am most likely still a few decades from leaving life, but you know...I decided to start some of the "Gentle Art." I am a caretaker of so many things for the next generation. I am packing them up, documenting their provenance ("your great-great-grandfather gave this anvil to your great-grandfather"—yes, that is a real one), and passing them on now. All these items can find new appreciators and applications in homes where their decades of enjoyment exceed mine by a generation or two. Family pictures, tools, art, china, doilies, dishes - all are making their way to my children, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. It is so much fun to see them delight in these family artifacts while I am here to delight with them.
Then there is the big stuff...the estate planning. Yup, I had to do that, too. We all know it is important, yet only 40% of Americans have a will. What a horrible job to leave behind for those we love! I do not want my children and grandchildren to be saddled with hard decisions (which is what happens when you don't have a will.) That is not okay. So, my husband and I went to a lawyer and did that, too. We don't have a lot, but now what we do have will be easy to take care of. That seems like the least I can do.
I have not quit buying things that seem good to have. But, I am trying to make sure I share the beauty of things in this life as plan-fully as I can.
In His love,
Joy Ryan, President/CEO
Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
P.S. If you are ready to start talking about your estate plans, please contact one of our Ranch Development Officers at 1-800-344-0957. We don't have all of the answers and will direct you to the professionals for much of the planning, but we can help you begin the conversation.