How it all began
I was sitting in a cafe one day with my sister just before leaving for India, and she said to me: “If anything happens to you, I wouldn't have a clue who your friends are, or what to do, or what you would want.” And it was true! My sister and I live in different locations, we have totally different lifestyles; she is married with children whereas I am not, and I am part of a worldwide spiritual community where I have many friends around the world.
So, this got me to start writing down everything that I thought my sister needed to know, which turned out to be an illuminating process as I found there was much information to record and many decisions to make. And I certainly didn't want to leave it all to her to deal with, I felt strongly it was my responsibility to do this.
I remember when my mum died; I was 20 at the time and my sister and I went to choose the flowers at the florist (in the days before mobiles and the Internet!). It was one of the hardest things to do and it is the one thing that still stands out so clearly 33 years later! We were both shell-shocked and so devastated at losing our mum in the short space of six weeks from diagnosis until she died, literally overcome with grief, that choosing the words to write on the card just seemed impossible. I felt so vulnerable and raw talking to the woman at the shop.
It was a year or so later, after this initial conversation with my sister that a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer which then spread to other parts of her body as the months went on. I had the privilege and honour to be supporting her through this time up until her death and beyond. Due to family circumstances, I was her Executor and the main coordinator of every aspect of wrapping up her life: from registering her death to organising her funeral according to her wishes, dealing with all the legal matters including probate, as well as emptying out her home, selling her vehicle and closing down her business.
Thankfully, my dear friend had had the foresight and maturity to write her Will, including instructions as to which personal items to give to whom, her funeral wishes and where to scatter her ashes. She indicated where all her paperwork and important documents were kept. I was of course very supported by friends and community and she had the best send-off we could wish for her, all home-organised and run. More on that later!