Art of Dying Volume II - Page 44

AMY PICKARD What they don't ever portray are the death duties — the millions of details that someone has to attend to. I was really close with my mom, so that task fell to me. I didn't know what to do. When I called one of my mom's best friends to let her know that my mom had passed away, she asked, “Do you know if your mom had a will?” I didn't even think of that. Here I am just trying to figure out how to sort through the intensity of my best friend and mom leaving the planet. I was like, "Oh, a will? Oh, gosh. I don't know." When I flew to Chicago where my mom had died, I walked into her condo, and I thought, ‘Okay. first of all I have to look for a will. Second of all, I have to figure out what bills need paying. What is the name of the electric company in Chicago? I had to be a detective to figure it all out. Luckily mom and I hypothetically talked about dying, “Do you want to be cremated or buried? Like many people, our conversation was almost a joke. She said, "Oh, just cremate me and put me in a mayonnaise jar and set me out for trash day." It's a funny thing, but then you actually have to figure out what's going to happen when her body is cremated. You’ve got to find the best crematorium and know what services they provide. And where’s a mayonnaise jar? There was no book or guide to help me. I thought, "Am I the only one that has been blindsided by all of these death duties?" I talked to other people. They were like, "Yep. I went through that with my mom," or, "I went through that with my dad," and I thought ‘I need to create a one- stop shopping booklet. Not just the logistics such as the listings of bills, landlord information, insurance policies, and wills. It’s important to create a history of our joys. I love doing mom’s favorite things, whether it's watching her favorite movie or going to her favorite café. Because of my mom, I created Good To Go. With the Good To Go paperwork, I encourage people to talk to their loved ones about important ‘What If’s.’ What if you died suddenly? What if you had a stroke? What would you want to happen? Things like that. A lot 44 | ART OF DYING of people have a plan like, "Well, if I have a stroke, and I can't do x, y, or z, take me out in the woods and shoot me.” That's not a plan. That's actually a crime. You need specifics. A lot of people think that they need to be rich in order to have a will. Death preparedness is for everybody. I'm not rich. I'm single. I don't have a husband, and I don't have kids. But if something happened to me, somebody's got to come into my apartment and figure shit out, you know? I love my friends so much. I’ve addressed everything. Even if it’s “I don’t care what you do with any of my furniture,” that can relieve them of so much death-work and the worry over if they’re doing what I wanted or not. To most people, thinking about death is morbid. I feel a lot of this aversion comes down to our society that doesn't talk about death as being a transition, just as birth is a transition. If society would look at death as a natural experience instead of a punishment, there would be a lot less pushback. You can have a positive attitude around death, but it doesn't take away the devastation of loss. I wasn't thinking it actually gives the dying the peace to let go. “ My mom died out of the blue. It was completely unexpected. I'd never experienced death on that level before. I'd had grandparents who died when I was very young, but we weren't really that close. Death was new to me. The only experience I'd had with death was from movies or TV.