I told my case worker I had several dreams of telling people I was dying. I am not sure if the prognosis of dying actually initiates such ‘death’ type of dreams or not. However, having worked in a hospital I have encountered terminal patients who shared that their dreams and visions felt realistic. Many related visions of past meaningful experiences and reunions with loved ones, and those who reassured and guided them. Others reported feeling as if they were preparing to go somewhere. My dreams fell into the second category.
One dream seemed appeared like walking through a black fog. There was no light (maybe enough light to understand I was walking through fog), no pain, no hatred, no hell, no fire. Just a dark fog. I did not envision life was going to be destroyed. Nor did I fear death. I was sort of assessing the fog, the steps required to exit it, that I should follow this ‘intuitively’ known path. If I did, I would exit and move on to whatever was next. This intuitively known path offers much insight. All dreams offered a similar message: time is short.
I noted one particular dream of interest. I followed a child, who held a letter proclaiming life would end six weeks later. The child did not walk in fear but busied himself by looking for the room to report. When experiencing such dreams, many claim it is the internal soul processing all the events occurring. Others turn to Internet dream analysis and equate some deeper meaning. And many might roll over and slumber out some words, “That was weird,” drink some water, and go back to sleep for another round. I took all of it as a message.
Up front, there’s no indication that I am going to die within six weeks. There is also no indication I won’t die in six weeks either. If I did there was only six weeks, I have five left, for the dream of the child occurred last weekend. Since I am a walking timebomb (my non-medical techie word), that could check out (blow-up) at any moment, I must be prepared. I have to understand that my family needs to know my finances, where to get access, where can one store documentation, etc. Therefore, this week has been a non-stop action of lists. Even in death, life is a list.
There are lists for everything: pre-flight checklists, project checklists, camping lists, grocery lists, bucket lists, start of school lists, moving lists, packing lists, medication lists, household todo lists, babysitting lists, and so on. Preparing to die has a list. Once I started, my list grew exponentially as the week evolved. I started with a simple Internet list of 7 things needed when you learn you’re terminally ill. Some things included a second opinion, treatment options, disease course, symptom management, bucket lists, hospice and how I would like to die. Here’s the additions:
- Health Insurance coverage and details;
- Printed Health Summary (list of your medical infirmities) ;
- Last will and testament (Don’t have one? Get one.);
- Work transition list;
- List of contact numbers, including work, Human Resources, and supervisors;
- Storage location for scanned files that can be accessed by my executor;
- List of passwords for key accounts;
- Last Letter (The Stanford Letter Project) to loved ones;
- Last blog post;
- Medical consent list, including a sub-list of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), living will, no code treatment, spiritual counseling (last rites), plan of care, etc.;
- Bill Payment list, including credit cards, utilities, bank account passwords, account key questions, special PINs, and copies of statements;
- List of turn off auto-refills or auto subscriptions;
- Car maintenance schedule list;
- Veterans Benefit changes;
- Change property title transfer to beneficiary (If you rent, lease information);
- List of drafted letters to all credit bureaus;
- Letters to credit card companies terminating accounts (to let them know you’re dead and that Platinum Amex card is not accepted in heaven);
- List on securing Passports, ID Cards, Driver’s License and other ID materials;
- Turbo Tax passwords and past five years of taxes;
- Car Title transfer;
- List of email accounts/services to cancel, Facebook, and other online services to cancel;
- Social Security Administration Information;
- List of E-Trade accounts and other relevant information, listing statements, ensure beneficiaries are properly stated and net worth (which either shows you’re beneficiaries will adore you or confirm you’re worth the paper the statement was printed on);
- List of any 401K plans and beneficiary information;
- Deferred compensation and beneficiary information;
- List of local Hospice information and basic interviewing of hospice; and
- List of cremation services;
- List of items for storage, selling, or donation; and
Lists of people to inform I am terminal(nah)
I admit, as of today, I have 90% of the above list(s) complete. I feel terrific. The lists of life are not easy, but they must be checked off. Get prepared. Live your life like you’ll die tomorrow, but build a document repository that will help your benefactors. Then plan your life as though you’ll be here for another 50 years.