by Vern Miranda, co-founder of

Last Will and TestamentDeath and dying…a subject most of us would prefer to avoid. Yet death is inevitable, so it’s critical that we all think about end-of-life issues. And more importantly, have open and honest conversations with family members about what they would want during those last days. (Or for yourself, for that matter. We all have to go at some point.)

What to Expect When Someone Dies

Whether it’s expected or sudden, death is still a mighty blow that must be endured by the survivors. There are so many details to handle…burial plans, final wishes, paperwork, announcements, dealing with insurance and financial institutions, paying final bills and taxes, distributing the estate and so much more, all while dealing with profound grief.

Knowing how your loved one wanted things taken care of is of immense value. In fact, just knowing where the important papers are can be a godsend! And yet many people avoid the topic because somehow they fear that planning in advance for their demise will somehow hasten it.

It’s understandable. Still, by planning ahead you and your family can avoid unnecessary pain and stress, reduce medical, legal and business expenses, and depart this world under your own terms.

The Benefits of Planning for End-of-Life in Advance

I am one of six siblings, and in addition to the passing of my dear parents I have witnessed the end-of-life experiences for many other family members. Several of them anticipated their deaths in the immediate future; however, in all cases not one of them had initiated any end-of-life plans. Did they want heroic life-saving efforts made? Last wishes? Burial preferences? Where were all the important papers? Everything was a mystery.

That’s why over 40 years ago I purchased an end-of-life program for myself. Included are preparations of my remains for burial, selection of a casket, memorial service plans, and a crypt. Everything has been taken care of, so my loved ones won’t have to worry.

I’ve spelled out in my family trust and will what I want done, to whom I leave my estate…everything.  Everyone knows what needs to be done, how and when. What better gift can you leave to those you leave behind?

Many fine articles can be found about end-of-life planning from experts on the subject, including AARP, Full Circle of Care, HuffPost, U.S. News, and many others.

Lists Can Help Make Everything Easier

For certain, your passing or that of a loved one will seem unbearable at that moment, but by taking a little time to complete some simple forms in advance you can make that sad time a bit less painful.

In addition to offering you the ability to create, save, store and share online memorials at a reasonable price, we’ve prepared and made available without charge several forms you can download onto your computer, tablet or smart phone.

These free checklists will help you capture:

  • vital statistics
  • document locations
  • important contact names
  • family member names
  • memorial service plans
  • burial or cremation arrangements
  • memorial service details
  • family/executor tasks
  • obituary information
  • favorites (flowers, music, in lieu of flowers instructions, etc.)

and much more…


Recommended Reading

Either online or in hard copy, many books have been written on the subject of death, dying, and surviving. Among our many favorites are…


Back to Life by Jennie Wright

Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schweibert

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye by Brook Noel & Pamela D Blair, Ph.D

Plan Your Estate by Denis Clifford

The Wall Street Journal Complete Estate-Planning Guidebook by Rachel Emma Silverman

Estate Planning for Dummies by N. Brian Caverly, Esq, and Jordan S. Simon

The IRS and the Social Security Administration also have important information you’ll want to be aware of as well.

Grief Counselors and Support Groups can help

Finally, please be aware that you’re not alone at a most painful time. San Diego County is home to a vast array of trained grief counselors who can help you deal with your grief. And, many support groups exist to serve the widest range of needs. Just search for “grief counseling San Diego” or “support group [enter your special need or interest] San Diego”.


Planning in advance for the eventual passing of a loved one or yourself need not be an insurmountable task. And by doing so, you’ll make the lives of those who remain behind less stressful and more at peace when that time comes.