Planning Ahead — a Gift to Your Loved Ones

Planning Ahead — a Gift to Your Loved Ones

Just breathe, passionate help for the PF journey

In my more recent columns, I have been writing about wrestling with end-stage pulmonary fibrosis and sharing my experience with seeking palliative care. As you can tell, I like planning ahead to take care of my own needs and the needs of my loved ones.

My latest project is compiling important information all in one place. This includes all my personal and medical information, details about my loved ones, legal and financial matters, and end-of-life instructions.

Helpful resource

I’m sure there are plenty of helpful resources out there that can help with planning ahead. The one I’m using is the Peace of Mind Planner (don’t worry, I’m not receiving anything by recommending it).

Photo by Kim Fredrickson

Contents include:

  • My Personal Information
  • My Medical Information
  • Key Contact Information
  • At the Time of My Passing
  • My Dependents
  • Important Documents
  • Financial Information
  • Commercial/Business Information
  • What Beneficiaries Can Expect
  • Personal Property
  • Insurance
  • My Pets
  • What to Pay, Close, and Cancel
  • Email and Social Media
  • Miscellaneous Information
  • My Personal Wishes
  • Last Words

It is a spiral-bound hardcover book that has all these sections to fill in. Of course, I don’t have to fill everything in, but it is wonderfully helpful to not have to think about all the categories myself.

It can be intimidating

It feels a bit daunting, but I’ve figured out a way to do it that isn’t overwhelming. In the evening, my hubby and I like to watch some of our favorite TV shows together. We are especially partial to English detective shows! During the shows, I fill in some of the pages. If a particular question requires me to get up to get information, I use a sticky note to remind me to answer the question at a later time.

Some of the more heartfelt answers will take more thought, so it won’t be done during a TV show. I’ve found that this system is helping me make progress, not getting too bogged down.

This is a gift to my loved ones

I do consider this a gift of love to my family. I don’t want to leave my husband and adult children with the burden of having to sort out financial problems when I pass away. They will have enough to deal with as it is.

Part of my resolve comes from my husband and I sorting out my father-in-law’s financial affairs when he became incapacitated a year ago. He has since passed away. It has been a very difficult process to go through because he did not plan ahead.

Things were in disarray; taxes had not been filed, important paperwork was missing, bills had not been paid, and we had great difficulty accessing his funds. This caused problems that took many months to unravel.

I learned a lot from being on the receiving end of his financial affairs not being in order, and don’t want my husband or children to go through this. It’s normal to want to put this reality on the back burner. I’m grateful I have the strength to do this now, and I feel relieved and happy to know that compiling important information all in one place is a way of loving my family.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear what you’ve done to help your family with what lies ahead by planning ahead. Do you have a system for compiling necessary information for your loved ones?  Please leave a comment below, and share with those who could benefit via email or on social media. We’re in this together!

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Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.

6 comments

  1. Sheryl Jones says:

    It’s never too early. My husband (and I) did not plan ahead … I will say we had our complete funeral plan and burial plots in place, and he had a life insurance policy. I was, and still am, covered on his medical/dental insurance plan, so I don’t have to be on Medicare. He was diagnosed with IPF in January of 2015, and his doctor told us he had 3-5 years, and possibly another 2-5 years because he was on Esbriet (trial drug). We thought we had “time” to take care of these details … he was busy working his day job and we were enjoying life. But God had other plans and he was taken home 9 months after diagnosis. The burdensome task then became mine to sort out all the details. It took 3 months working every day from 8am to 5pm. I don’t fault my husband … I was in total denial. I would recommend Kim’s approach to handling these not-so-pleasant issues. Thanks for your advice Kim.

    • Dear Sheryl, So sorry your dear husband passed away so quickly. I appreciate you sharing about your experience having to pick up all the pieces when he passed away so suddenly. I think it helps all of us realize how important it is to handle things now, while we can. None of us want our families to go through what you’ve been through. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  2. Anne Philiben says:

    I have a notebook with all the info, names, telephone nos, email addresses that I think they will need. I’m a life member of a number of organization and I’ve included al their ID cards. My body has been donated to the Oregon Health Sciences University. When they have completed work on my body, they will cremate them and they will be buried…blown at sea. The only thing I haven’t done is arrange transportation of my remains to Portland. I will do that soon.

  3. Russel J Fabre says:

    Don’t forget to let your love ones know where your book and other important instructions are. We put our instructions book and other items which will be needed immediately in a red folder in the front of our fireproof file cabinet. Red with big bold letters “IN CASE OF DEATH LOOK HERE”. Morbid maybe but it will get their attention.

  4. Linda Maki says:

    My mother passed away from IPF in 2010. She left us, her family, the gift of organized papers and written instructions. What a wonderful gift! My husband and I are healthy at the present time, but we’re trying to follow her example by keeping an up-to-date file folder with all the necessary information. Bless you for your thoughtfulness.

  5. Linda says:

    My sister with IPF was given the sad news of probably 6 mos a few days ago Even though we knew it was coming it is heartbreaking. She has had things taken care of for a while. Hospice has come and will be available when needed. She suffered for 4 1/2 yrs but was able to get around until this last episode of hospitalization and rehab of 6 weeks Exercise if you can. Keep the body moving

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