What If I Die?

A conversation about scuba diving, usually leads to discussion about big scary sharks, too much equipment, claustrophobia, great food, beautiful islands and sometimes, the dark subject of death. It’s then time to break out the Google machine and see what kind of statistics we get, comparing the numbers of death by interesting match ups like great white sharks vs. vending machines, lightning vs. hippos, cows vs. cars, guns vs. knives, and we find ourselves off on a tangent somewhere, usually laughing.

But here’s one statistic that trumps all conversation…3 out of 3 people die.

In the end, the “how” isn’t nearly as important as what we do about it before it happens. Statistically speaking, we’re all going to take the big plunge, someday.

So what if I die?

What you can do to help those around you: loved ones, friends, family, figure out your plans before you expire. Speaking from repeated personal experience, the one thing I can beg of every person out there, is to have some sort of idea of what your wishes are, and let someone (or better yet, several people) know. We joke about being “shipped off in a pine box on a slow train”, “a pirates send-off to Davey Jones’ locker” or a “no-fuss deal”, and we make jokes and laugh about it because the seriousness of it just really isn’t that funny. But, leaving your affairs scattered to the winds and leaving your decisions up those left living is nothing to joke about.

The best case scenario would be to have your affairs in order before it happens. Some may opt for an outlined will, or a perfect folder organized with paid-in-full burial plots and funeral arrangements. When you pass, the folder goes to your next of kin, with perfect instructions on what to do and how to do it, no questions asked. This is by far, the easiest way to deal with an already difficult time for your friends, family and loved ones. And if you really kept up with your will, things tend to go much smoother.

Here are a few things you should be sharing with your friends and family before you head for a snack from that vending machine, on a shark dive, near a hippo, while driving a car and carrying a gun and a knife:

  1. Communicate.
    Tell that close friend, children, family friend, or a lawyer, and be honest, without joking about it.  Your expiration is already going to be hard on your loved ones. Making choices about what to do for you will be difficult for them to decide or guess what you might have wanted.
  2. Admit you don’t know, if you don’t know.
    Very few people know what they want when they go, and it’s ok.  But tell someone that you don’t know, so they’re not endlessly searching for a plan you didn’t make.  Your family and friends will take care of you and if you really don’t know what you want, who better to decide than the people who know you best?
  3. Get a living will.  
    Do you want to be resuscitated?  Under what circumstances?  Tell someone, especially a lawyer and put it in writing so there are no questions.  Life and death and black and white, but artificial life support grays those lines and leaves loved ones with decisions they are usually not in the mental state to make while upset.
  4. Your body has to go somewhere.
    Cremation, burial, cryogenic freezing and a frozen dead guy festival?  If anything you have the rights to, it’s your own body.  Where would you like it to go?  Tell someone.  Best case, a lawyer.  Plan and pay ahead if you can – make it easy.
  5. Plan the idea of service.
    Your faith, lifestyle, wishes and plans for those whom you leave behind would be nice to know ahead of time.  If you want a specific service, no service, a Celebration of Life, a slides show, music, party, last shot of tequila, a 21 gun salute, passing a secret message for those left on earth, or finally giving up that secret treasure map’s whearabouts…Whatever it is – tell someone.  Be clear. Be concise.
  6. Stash some cash.
    As every gangster movie and crime scene TV shows have told us that getting rid of a body can be expensive. All joking aside, dying leaves the living with a cost of what to do with you.  Plan for the type of ending you want.  Cremation is less than burial, which is less than cryogenic freezing.  The frozen dead guy festival is likely somewhere in between – but this shouldn’t be left to your friends and family.  Be responsible to take care of yourself and give yourself a proper send off.

The bottom line is, that no matter when our time here on earth is up, we’re all going to die (statistically speaking), so be prepared and let those around you know your wishes.  And once you’re done with all this grim, horrible discussion, get back to living your life and enjoying every minute.

And, if you haven’t yet – take that vacation you’ve been putting off.  You never know where the next shark-infested vending machine might be hiding.