A compassionate, practical guide to end-of-life matters, empowering us to clarify and share our wishes and continue to live life to the fullest
• Addresses the emotional, spiritual, and practical aspects of end-of-life planning to help you prepare well for your death
• Enables the reader to make well-informed decisions about their end-of-life care and facilitate conversations with family and friends about this difficult topic
• Includes guiding questions, exercises, and recording tools, as well as worksheets available for download and supportive online courses
Many people say “I wish I had known what they wanted” when their loved one has died. Too often, a person’s wishes for end-of-life care, and for after they have gone, have not been recorded. With this valuable guide, you can now begin to do this for yourself, so your relatives will be able to honor your wishes more easily, saving them unnecessary stress and upset at a potentially intense time.
Before I Go addresses the emotional, spiritual, and practical aspects of end-of-life planning to help you make well-informed decisions about your end-of-life care and prepare well for your death. Jane Duncan Rogers guides you with equanimity, care, and humor through subjects such as how to have a conversation about dying, the impact of grief on relatives responsible for estate matters, DIY funerals and what that entails. She states clearly what you need to have in place to ensure the best end of life possible, helps you identify your values and beliefs in this area, and demonstrates which actions you then need to take, and when. With a full resource pack of essential information available to you, including guiding questions, exercises, and recording tools, as well as downloadable worksheets and supportive online courses, decision-making will be much easier and you will find relief and peace of mind knowing you have taken care of outstanding matters.
You will also be giving a great gift to your loved ones. When they have this information in advance, you spare them many difficult decisions and administrative hassle at a time when they will be grieving and not in a fit state to cope. It can bring great comfort to those left behind to know they are indeed carrying out your wishes. It also provides an opportunity for you to record your achievements and history, giving them a legacy they would otherwise not have.
You can update your wishes at any time, meaning you’ll have a sense of control of your life and its ending and feel confident that if anything happens to you suddenly, you and your family will be as well-prepared as possible to deal with it. With your end-of-life wishes clearly defined, you gain the freedom to continue living your life to the full, knowing the difficult decisions have been handled.
This is one subject that often has people turning away, heart sinking and promising themselves they will get around to it. And then it never happens. But here’s why it is so important to make sure your financial affairs are not only in good order, but that you have detailed what you want to happen with your finances after your death.
• You know where you keep all your financial information - but your executor won’t. It will help them considerably if you detail this.
• Itemizing all your accounts/insurances/benefits/pensions, etc., means it is easy to access them, and your executor won’t be left wondering if there is anything that hasn’t been discovered.
• Stating what you wish to have happen with certain monies will make it much more likely that this happens.
• You deciding what you want will minimize family arguments.
• It will save your family time and money that would otherwise be spent on trying to sort out muddles.
The most important thing you can do regarding your financial affairs is have an up to date will, outlining what you want to have happen. If you want to ensure your money and anything else of import goes to the person, people, charity or cause that you want, then you need to write a will detailing this. Otherwise, the law in your country or state will determine to whom your assets will go, and this may very well not be who you want it to be.
Even if, for whatever reason, you decide not to have a will, it is better to write down your wishes in your Before I Go workbook, because there is still more chance of them then being carried out than if you hadn’t written anything down at all.
Finances and Family Patterns
It is not unusual for families who normally get on well to find their emotions running high if they perceive their siblings have been treated differently in a will, or to be left with feelings of bitterness and/or resentment after a loved family member has died, particularly parents. They may even dispute a will. It is as if without the parents steering the helm of the family ship, the crew, in their grief, discover long-held family patterns from childhood that come to the surface to get re-enacted. Even if you can’t imagine that this would ever happen, it can, and it does. The best way you can minimize this kind of thing happening is to detail your wishes in a will, and stick to them. Even then wills can get contested but it is still much better to have one than not.
I’ve just heard that one of my best friends has died. She was only 51. Her mother is having a nightmare as her daughter’s phone and computer were password protected and they are having to deal with the mess of her affairs. They don’t even know if she had a will. It’s making a terrible time even more stressful.
I heard later that the situation became much worse and ended badly. The only signed will they eventually could find was one from when my friend was still in a toxic marriage, which ended a decade before she died. Half of her estate was left to her husband. Legally he couldn’t inherit as the law treats an ex-spouse as deceased but his heirs were entitled to his share. His two sisters, who were vile to her for many years, and whom she couldn’t stand, inherited several hundred thousand pounds.
Her own brother got nothing. Her mother was enraged and distressed but didn’t want the estate to disappear in legal fees, plus she wasn’t in any state to go to court and contest it. It was horrible. At no point did the two sisters get in touch, send condolences, say thank you, offer to take a lesser sum or offer to donate some to charity. They just took the money. Hard as I try not to be judgmental, I can’t quite manage it here. It made a shocking death so much worse for the family. Caroline, England.
Associated areas to think about
Who currently handles your money? An accountant, financial adviser, insurance planner or adviser, and any investment fund managers or tax specialists? Anyone else? These people (or firms) should be named in your workbook, with contact details. If you have no-one, perhaps because you have little money or assets to leave, then make sure you state that in the workbook. This has a checklist of all the areas you need to think about, and then it is up to you how your organize this. Some people prefer to detail everything on an Excel spreadsheet, others to simply list accounts on a piece of paper. Still others prefer to use an online platform. Whatever you decide to do, keep it simple, clear and concise.
My parents are pretty well organised when it comes to their finances, and they have stated very simply in writing that each account or monetary arrangement of any kind has a file in the top drawer of the filing cabinet. I’ve seen them, and though it might be helpful if all these were listed on one piece of paper, it will not be onerous for me to go through the top drawer when the time comes. Sandy, Scotland
Think about the kind of person you are, and what filing arrangement suits you best (whether online or offline). So long as your executor knows where to find this information, and how to access it if it is online, then you are doing fine. If you are using the workbook, make sure you write in the location of everything, as a minimum. If you don’t have any of the stated documentation (because it is irrelevant), make sure you state that too.
Jane Duncan Rogers is an award-winning life and death coach who helps people prepare well for a good end of life. Having been in the field of psychotherapy and personal growth for 25 years, she is founder of Before I Go Solutions, dedicated to educating people about dying, death, and grief. Jane lives within the Findhorn community in Scotland, UK.
“I recommend Before I Go to everyone I know. Creating a good end of life plan is helpful in so many ways. Not least, it is an eminently practical guide to living your life to the fullest NOW!”
– ROBERT HOLDEN, author of Shift Happens, Loveability and Happiness Now
“Loving, caring, and careful, this is a wonderfully practical book for everyone. Sooner or later we all have to manage the process of approaching death--either our own or our loved ones. This single compassionate book will take you through everything you need to know. The highest praise I can give is that I will use it myself. So thank you, Jane. I am grateful.”
– WILLIAM BLOOM, author of The Power of Modern Spirituality and The Endorphin Effect
“Jane has produced nothing less than a work of true art in completing this guidebook, Before I Go. Those of us who work in the field of death and dying have been waiting for such a comprehensive, passionate, resourceful, and thoroughly researched manual. I trust this book because I trust the authenticity of its author. Jane’s own face-to-face experiences with death when her beloved Philip died show us that she knows well the places of rawness in the human heart. I trust Jane as a companion for mine and will recommend this book to friends and students alike. And having listened to Jane’s advice I have decided, “before I go” I will plan my own happy death!”
– PHYLLIDA ANAM-AIRE, author of A Celtic Book of Dying, Celtic Wisdom and Contemporary Living
“From spiritual seekers to pragmatists like me, there will be something for everyone in Jane’s book. It will help those who’ve done a journey of loss and grief, those whose health signals a predictable trajectory, and those who are hail and hearty and just want to be prepared, whatever the future holds. I feel I can confidently guarantee that whoever you are, wherever you’re coming from, you will find something in Jane’s words of wisdom that resonate, and you’ll find yourself thinking: ‘Aha, that’s why I’m reading this book’.”
– BARBARA CHALMERS, founder of Final Fling and author of Too Busy To Die?
“As doctors, we say ‘prevention is better than cure’. Jane’s approach to end of life is very positive. She provides all the tools for a plan which can be easily accessed at the time of death by any member of the family. Because it has been taken care of many months before, there are no surprises, so loved ones feel the immediate benefit and can go forward with confidence knowing what was wanted, even just by doing the ‘How Prepared Are You?’ quiz. I say, ‘prevent the pain with the plan’.”
– DR. DOREEN MILLER, author of The Healthy Business Bridge
“Without Jane’s help, we wouldn’t have done anything other than a will and some financial information; and we’d have been much less organized. Through our work with her, and the very useful discussions and information, we got clear about what we wanted and didn’t want and wrote it down. Jane had a gift for getting us disciplined in a very supportive way, and working together as a couple doing this has made us realize how invaluable it has been.
– DELCIA McNEIL, author of Bodywork Therapies for Women, and RUSSELL McNEIL, homeopath
“This is a way to bring the many facets of planning for end of life into one place. There are so many things to think about, and also the ones you don’t know to think about! Jane’s approach for planning and her style of conversation and gentle prodding make it much easier to think about the ‘how’ of planning for end of life, no matter what stage you’re in. While I plan with my mother, I am also having conversations with my husband. As we get older our plan will change, but we do now have a plan and know what the other wants.”
– MARY VARGAS, founder of Achieve Consulting Group, LCC
“For anyone who has a blended family or has been remarried, this course and workbook is a MUST! Having the excuse that I had an assignment from Jane’s course made it easy to open the conversation with my husband, when previously I could not hold his attention for 15 minutes on this topic. And now I feel like I have created a ‘living document,’ not a ‘death document’.”
– PATTY BURGESS BRECHT, president of Possibility
“Being on the course drove home how much this service is needed; I simply would not do this without handholding. The gap between thinking about it and actually doing it was made blazingly apparent.”
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