good life, good death, good grief

Planning for the future

Making plans when you’re healthy means there is less to think about if you get sick. It is never too soon to think about what you would like to happen if you become ill, or if your illness gets worse.

There are certain practical steps that everyone should take when thinking about planning for the future. Planning ahead in this way will make the financial, legal and practical consequences of illness and death for families much easier to deal with. For example, everyone, no matter their age or health, should consider:

People who make arrangements to address these issues generally feel a real sense of satisfaction knowing they have done everything they can to assist their loved ones should illness or death strike.

Families, too, come through the adverse events much better when the party involved has taken the basic preparatory steps suggested above.

Many people qualify for help with the costs involved in making a will, completing an advance directive or granting a power of attorney. Further information about this is available from the Scottish Legal Aid Board website or by calling the Legal Aid Helpline on 0845 122 8686.

Read how our Development Manager, Robert Peacock got on planning his own future in our Reluctant Planner's Guide To Death and Dying

Advance Care Planning

Within NHS Scotland, planning for the future is usually called Advance Care Planning and it involves talking about what you want or don’t want to happen in the future regarding any care you might need.

To do this properly, you’ll need to talk to your family, friends, any health or social care professionals you see regularly (eg doctor or nurse), and possibly a lawyer.

There are many aspects of Advance Care Planning that you can start yourself, while other aspects might be brought up by a doctor or nurse if you become ill, or if your illness gets worse. Depending on your circumstances and wishes, Advance Care Planning might include:

Your thoughts and preferences may change over time, and if so, it is important to let people know. By having these conversations and agreeing to have them written down you are giving guidance, confidence and strength to those closest to you in case you become ill and they have to speak or make decisions for you.

This will help to reduce stress because you have planned your future care together.

Digital Legacy

In the modern, hyper-connected world, what we leave online after we die can be as important and valuable as what we leave offline. We have online accounts for banking, shopping, subscriptions, bill payments and more. Will people be able to access these after we have died? Do they need to? What are the security implications? Equally, or perhaps more, importantly, what about the archives of personal history we leave online - our social media accounts, photo archives and e-mails. Do we want people to be able to access these or would we prefer them to be deleted?

These are big questions that society is only just beginning to grapple with.

Marie Curie and Good Life Good Death Good Grief held Scotland's first conference dedicated to the subject in June 2019. We have also previously featured the topic at our annual Death on the Fringe series.

Some of our guest speakers at these events offer guidance in this area. For example, the Digital Legacy Association has put together a collection of free resources for the general public and professionals. You can also find a guide to digital legacies on the Funeral Guide site.

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