Deena Rosen
Mar 14, 2017 · 3 min read
Other cultures have different ways of dealing with death.

Do you have a will? If you don’t have children or health issues or a small fortune, chances are you probably don’t. You should fix this.

Western society is terrible at dealing with death. So when faced with a loved one’s death, especially a young person’s sudden death, it can be hard to make decisions and know what they would have wanted.

Questions you should have answers for:

  • Do you want a DNR? What outcomes are unacceptable to you? What are you willing to sacrifice and not? (This question is from Atul Gawande’s “questions to ask at life’s end”.)
  • Do you want to be cremated or buried? Where?
  • How do you want your friends and family to celebrate your life? Are there causes you are passionate about that you’d like people to donate to in your honor?
  • What should happen to your physical possessions? Your clothes? Your journals? Your savings?
  • What should happen to your google docs and instagrams and other digital creations?

It may feel morbid to talk about, but thinking through these decisions is a kindness to your community. Think of it as guidelines to help your loved ones make the best decisions in their time of grief. (You will be gone, imagine how sad everyone will be!) As one therapist told the Nytimes, “it’s an act of love to do a will, because you’re trying to make life easier for those we leave behind.”

Making these decisions in advance could also save your loved ones money and energy. Many people spend a lot to keep their loved ones alive because they just aren’t sure what he or she would have wanted. One small town in Wisconsin spends less money than everywhere else in the country on end-of-life care because they encourage their community to have these discussions. In this town, if you don’t have a living will, you are chastised by your neighbors.

If you don’t have these thoughts written down somewhere, or if your community doesn’t know, tell them. Get together with friends and create a living will. And if it speaks to you, take inspiration from other cultures, like Dia De Los Muertos or Ghost Festival. Have a gathering for your tribe, honor your lost loved ones, and discuss this part of life that is inevitable for all of us and can come at any time.

Additional Resources

Hacking Behavior


Thanks to Suelyn Yu

Deena Rosen

Written by

Behavioral designer, ex-Opower, meditator, veggie-eater, east & west coaster

Hacking Behavior


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