An End-of-Life Plan is an essential part of your preparation. This guide helps you to coordinate, document, and communicate your wishes for your end-of-life, death, and disposition. It is recommended that you coordinate all of this information, convey your plan and your wishes to your family (very important!), and store it in a safe place where your family knows where to find it when the time comes. It is recommended to review your overall end-of-life plan every year or two, to make sure that the information it contains is still pertinent, and to make any changes that you might like to make. The Funeral Consumers Alliance has created an extraordinarily helpful document that guides you through all of the pertinent information to create an end-of-life plan: Before I Go, You Should Know. You may purchase a hard copy or a digital copy here.
An Advance Directive is crucial for end-of-life preparation; it dictates to your family what medical treatments you would - or would not - like to receive at the end of life. Completing this form is the best step you can take to create the end-of-life experience that you want. To have it clearly stated also removes any angst and guilt that your loved ones may feel if they are left to make these decisions without clearly knowing what you would have wanted. This link provides you with the Maine Health Care Advance Directive Form. If you live in another state, you may download your state-specific form at www.joincake.com or www.caringinfo.org. It is recommended that you keep a copy of your signed and notarized Advance Directive in your end-of-life file, provide a copy to your primary care physician, and one to your attorney as well. (If you have one)
Your Last Will and Testament will dictate what will happen with your "stuff" (assets, belongings, property, etc.) after you die. If you would like to create your will with an attorney, I recommend Maura H. Horodyski or Peter E. Rodway Jr. - both of whom are based in Portland, Maine. There are also websites available where you can create a will online, some are even free! ( www.freewill.com )
When you die someone is going to need to complete the death certificate. Whether it be a funeral director or your family members, it needs to be completed and contains some questions that (surprisingly enough) your family may not know the answers to. By completing this document you will provide all answers needed (that are answerable now) in order for others to complete the death certificate efficiently and accurately. Your family will be appreciative, I assure you!
Legacy work is perhaps one of the greatest gifts you can provide to your friends, family, and loved ones. To share your stories, advice, knowledge, thoughts, and feelings is something only you can provide, and it is an immeasurable gift. Legacy work can manifest in many forms: writing, letters, audio, video, art, etc. The possibilities are really endless. Click here for some legacy question prompts to get you started.
There are many more disposition options in Maine and New England than you may realize. And most of them are more affordable than what is most commonly assumed to be the "only" options in our society. (Funeral Home funerals, embalming, burials, and/or cremations) This document provides an overview of all disposition options that are currently available in Maine and New England. These include green burial, home burial, alkaline hydrolysis (water cremation), body donation, scattering of ashes, and burial at sea. While Natural Organic Reduction (NOR - human composting) is not yet available in Maine, it is possible to have a body transported to one of the facilities in the states that do currently allow it. Vermont has recently legalized NOR, but does not yet have an active facility. It looks like New York may soon legalize it as well. Efforts have been made to legalize NOR in Maine, but have thus far been unsuccessful.
This resource was written and published by Barbara Karnes. While at the bedside of hundreds of people during the dying process, Hospice Pioneer Barbara Karnes noticed that each death was following a near identical script. Each person was going through the stages of death in almost the same manner and most families came to her with similar questions. These realizations led Barbara to sit down and write Gone From My Sight, the "Little Blue Book" that changed the hospice industry, and is still widely used and provided by hospice today. I cannot recommend enough anything written by Barbara Karnes, inclusive of her blog Something to Think About: a blog on the end of life.
This flyer provides a brief overview of the many "alternate," affordable, and environmentally responsible possibilities for funerals and body disposition in Maine. For more detailed information on anything included here, feel free to contact me.
It is often the case that people are reluctant to talk about death, particularly their own death. However, I have also found that once the conversation is started, people WANT to talk about it, and have many questions. This document covers many of the death-related FAQ that I have encountered. If you have a question that is not included here, let me know!