I Asked My Mom if She Was Prepared to Die


I Asked My Mom if She Was Prepared to Die

Then I talked to some end-of-life experts. Here’s what I found out.

By Shaina Feinberg and Julia Rothman

Shaina is a writer and filmmaker who interviewed her mother for this story. Julia is an illustrator.

March 16, 2024

(Here’s the scammers article.)

Recently, I had the following conversation with my 82-year-old mother, Mary:

You might be wondering why I was asking my mom about her end-of-life preparedness. Well, when my dad, Paul, died suddenly a few years ago, we were completely unprepared.

“Dad and I never talked about what he wanted for his funeral,” my mom said. “He was 74 when he died, and he was in pretty good shape.”

On top of everything she had to do when he died, like planning the funeral, there was also the stress of finances and paperwork. “We had a joint checking account, but it didn’t have a lot of money. Our other bank account had more money, but was only in his name. I had to get that sorted out, which took ages.”

The most helpful advice my mom got when my dad died? “My best friend, Fran, told me, ‘Get a lot of death certificates because you’re going to have to send them to people and sometimes they don’t want a Xerox, they want the real thing.’ I got 15 death certificates from the funeral parlor.”

Preparing to die is complicated. How’s that for an understatement? You have to consider the emotional, spiritual and financial aspects. We talked to three end-of-life experts who unpacked how to make this extensive undertaking slightly more manageable.

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