Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exit Stage Right - January 2012

As heard on Radio Gorgeous January 31, 2012

This past weekend, the Southbank Centre held their Festival for the Living which was of course all about Death. And they must be onto something because Death was SOLD OUT. The point of the festival is that we all die and while we don’t have to love it, we may as well explore it.
Independent publisher Saraband was there promoting the book “Where There’s a Will” by Michael Kerrigan which brings to light that more than half of adults living in the UK don’t have a will. 2/3 of people with young families don’t have a will. 60% of people in their 40’s don’t have a will! What are you waiting for, people? I know it’s less urgent than updating your Facebook status and less sexy than planning a holiday but the fact remains, you will die and you are not jinxing yourself by being prepared. You are being courteous.
Not having a will doesn’t inconvenience you when you’re dead, it’s everyone else that suffers. And the consequences for the living can be dire. More than one wife has had to sue her children in order to stay in the family home because hubby didn’t leave a will. And if you’re not married to your partner you are entitled to exactly nothing. Who looks after your kids if you both die? Do you really want your mother-in-law bringing them up?
Even if you don’t have children and are not married or partnered, who knows all your passwords and where they’re kept? My sixth grade teacher died over two years ago and his Facebook page is still up, status: Stoked!
A will is also an opportunity to limit the strife inherent in family gatherings, in this instance: your funeral or other remembrance. My grandfather had a longstanding feud with his second wife’s sister initially arising over the television volume. This culminated in the surprise announcement at his wife’s funeral service that despite them all living in the same building shivah would be observed in two separate apartments. Graveside, Belle nearly broke a hip trying to be the first to throw dirt on her sister’s coffin. “She’s sending her spies up here” my grandfather said when anyone came upstairs to offer condolences, “she’s worse than a dog.”
I can speak from the authority as the executrix of choice in my family. I have one reminder and one request: there is no privacy in death so please go through your underwear drawer now and keep it tidy, keep it fresh and keep it clean.