Friday, August 7, 2015

Those Cheeseheads are pretty smart

My previous post opened with, "Do I think about what happens when you die?  Not a whole lot." That's right.  I don't think about what happens to me but I think a lot about what happens to my family during the days and weeks soon after my departure. I think about the stuff they will need to deal with. Those thoughts do not make me happy.
I will probably leave them with a physical mess.  I am a widower.  A real poor housekeeper.    To counter my breast beating and guilt about that mess, I have become somewhat of a fanatic about what the morticians call pre-planning.   I don't mean just the "final arrangements." I do most strongly believe in setting that up before you die but I refer to the mountains of legal and business things a family must deal with, especially when a last parent dies. The estate must be closed.  That can be really hairy and complex. You need a lawyer to draw a bunch of papers that spell it all out what happens to your assets.  Don't let an older loved one get away with 'I don't have anything so I don't need all that.  Just bury me in the back yard."  If it ever was that simple, it isn't any more.
There is a town in Wisconsin that  might be the most prepared-for-death city in the whole country.  The good people of  La Crosse probably have a classier way to describe what they do.  One writer headlined the story "The town where everybody talks about death."
They spend less on end-of-life related health care than anyplace anywhere.   Just short of a hundred percent of La Crosse residents have  an Advance Directive.  That's a paper that spells out what kind of treatment and life support you want if you get seriously ill and near death. That saves a lot of money and I'm sure it prevents  some family arguments about what the loved one would have wanted. My family members might not all be happy with my Advance Directive but at least they can say "That's what the old man wanted so I guess we're stuck with it."
I must visit the Badger State. I will show up in La Crosse, shake a few hands and whip out my Advanced Directive before they ask me if I have one.  I'll bet those Cheeseheads will welcome me with open arms.


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