By Maureen Noble, BA Social Work, Director of Case Management
We’ve just watched a moving and dramatic several days of pomp and circumstance related to the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II’s death at age 96. I read that her and her staff’s planning of those ceremonies occurred over the stretch of a decade, named Operation London Bridge.
While most of us won’t have several memorial services, multiple church services and need to worry about coordinating military brigades and the disposition of millions of flowers, it still behooves us to plan our own Operation London Bridge. However, I would submit planning should include more than funeral arrangements. For our non-Royal purposes, Operation London Bridge should include financial planning, domestic options, Advanced Directives, end of life planning and funeral planning.
Financial planning is for the purpose of understanding how to plan for the cost of future care, possibly purchasing LTC insurance. It could be a different type of investing. It could include working with an attorney to situate assets, drawing up a trust, etc. These activities will look different depending on an individual’s financial profile.
Addressing domestic options includes understanding the options available in the community and whether they are within a person’s means. In Western WA, these options include 55+ communities, assisted living, independent living and memory care communities. Other options include Adult Family Homes, In Home Caregivers and Home Sharing options. Many low-income options exist as well.
Advanced Directives are an extremely important part of future planning. Executing a power of attorney document and/or a POLST form can help ensure that your healthcare is handled with your wishes, values and needs in mind. It’s also important to think about and talk about your wishes to family or support people so your wishes are known. Without guidance, family members will make decisions, but those decisions might not be in accordance with your wishes.
Funeral planning brings another wealth of decisions to be made. Traditional burial vs. cremation? Church service? Graveside service? Memorial service? If ashes to be spread, then where? To be blunt, by that time, we’ll be gone. However, planning or making your wishes known is a gift to the family members left behind to make or follow through on those arrangements.
It was heart-warming and touching to hear the reasons behind many of the Queen’s choices. The flowers chosen for her casket were meaningful. The towns, cities and places chosen for the various memorial services were important for those communities. Her favorite pony Emma and the corgi dogs were even part of the ceremony. These rituals of burial, really of life and death help us cope and grieve. Sharing your thoughts and wishes and values helps to ease the burden on loved ones.