For a Fun Evening - Host a "Death Night"!

OK I was a little tongue in cheek in my last post, "Fun with Mortality Tables." But let me assure you I am being completely serious here. One of the best nights I've ever spent with my daughters and their husbands was an evening at our house which has come to be known as "Death Night." OK, the title is a little "tongue in cheek" but I'm not kidding, the evening was great. Let me explain.

The idea for "Death Night' actually came from one of my sons-in-law, the one who's a lawyer... does that surprise you? He correctly suggested that since we were likely both the subjects and objects of one another's wills, trusts, health care proxies, guardianships, that it would be good to get together and discuss all these things.

So platinum wife Melanie, who can make any event into a party, started shopping and cooking, and I started preparing financial statements, and before long, we were all sitting together, having had a congenial dinner, and ready for the evening's agenda.

First we went around in turn with the state of our finances. I was much more detailed than the younger generation, since it is MUCH more likely that they'll need to know our finances than vice versa. I did a proper balance sheet, and noted the whereabouts of important statements and documents. Kind of a "State of the Household" address. (By the way, Melanie and I do this, the two of us, at least once a year as well, on or near our wedding anniversary. How romantic is that?)

Then we discussed health care issues, how we felt about plug pulling, heroic measures, that sort of thing. After that, we sorted out who was who's trustee, executor, etc. And then, we opened the floor for some family brainstorming. We have been separately thinking about renting/buying a summer place, so we discussed the possibility of pooling our resources for a common vacation home. Basically, whatever anyone wanted to bring up.... Interesting brainstorming.

Lastly, since there is some cross-guardianship of the kids, the younger generation started peppering one another with questions. Tough questions. In some cases, very tough questions. Questions like, "Sixteen year old Janie comes home and says, 'I'm pregnant.' What is your response?" I remember sitting there thinking, "I'm glad they're not asking ME these questions." But more importantly, and the greatest blessing of the evening as far as this father and grandfather is concerned, was that I loved their answers.

Not that I necessarily agreed with every detailed answer. I honestly don't remember. But I do remember sitting there thinking that there is no greater blessing as a father than to see your children step up to the plate like that, and demonstrate that they are ready to deal with whatever life throws at them.

We've just started to talk about having a sequel, "Death Night 2," I suppose.

And I highly recommend that you gather with the appropriate family and friends in your life and experience the rich pleasures of hosting a "death night" yourself. Hopefully much of what is brought to the table will prove to be, in the end, unnecessary. But the experience itself can be valuable, as it surely was for us. And by all means, treat it a little light-heartedly. You are creating a foundation for making it easier to discuss these difficult issues. So when it becomes necessary to begin to enact some of what you have agreed on, it will bring peace of mind to your whole family at a time that might otherwise be emotionally charged and far more difficult.

(For those of who who take this advice, I'd love to hear your own stories of "death night." There's an excellent chance that this will be a chapter in my book, "Platinum Living." - Bob)

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