17 August 2015

Just in case

My guiding principle in life is 'Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst', which is a maxim that has led me to take a whole host of precautions to avoid problems.

Many are based on past experience, such as the time I locked myself out of my flat, as I rushed to welcome the breakdown mechanic who'd just arrived to restart my car. In the months that followed, I made a conscious effort to ensure that I had my keys before I put (literally) a toe over the threshold, until this became an ingrained habit.

This kind of 'once bitten, twice shy' measure is sensible and probably quite common. Others, however, are based not on experience, but the infinite what-ifs that an anxious mind can dream up.

Often I light the oven before having a bath in the evening, so that I can prepare dinner as soon as I'm finished. One day, it occurred to me that I might have an accident, or collapse, and be unable to get out to turn it off. Ever since then, the fear of a fire breaking out has driven me to take my mobile into the bathroom. Mind you, I don't know what scenario would leave me unable to climb out of the bath, yet still able to reach the window sill for my phone...and, come to think of it, why not have it to hand every time I have a bath, in case I need to summon help?

Meanwhile, back to the front door, where I never use the security chain and always remove the key from the lock and hang it on a nearby hook, so that anybody with spare keys can easily access my flat in an emergency - such as my collapsing in the bath, perhaps?

This is designed to help others as well as myself, but some measures will only come into play upon my ultimate demise: these include the document that contains every last detail of my domestic life.

The aim of this is to make it easier to tidy up my affairs, but it also feels like a protective charm: now that I have it, it will never be needed. Of course, it won't grant immortality, but perhaps it will ward off premature death. And the spare copies I've secured off site will enable me to rebuild my life - administratively, at least - should, say, my flat burn down. You never know, if I can't reach that oven...

Image courtesy of James Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In fact, I've created a folder on my PC called 'Just in case' (a much nicer name than 'In case I die') to store both this document and instructions for my funeral, though I haven't actually drafted these yet.

So, just in case, I'd better lay out the basics here, which are: a humanist ceremony; a cardboard coffin*; music to include Stay Another Day (East 17), Hoppipolla (Sigur Ros) and Don't Stop Me Now (Queen), with a singalong to the last one; and, if it's spring, bunches of daffodils instead of wreathes. Oh, and please, please don't wear black. 

Now that I've shared that information, I'm pretty sure I'll live to 100!

*Cardboard makes much more sense for a cremation - assuming I haven't already gone up in flames with my flat - and I particularly like this one.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Talk about planning :)

Helen Barbour said...

Hi ocdtalk - a lot of it comes from losing a friend to cancer when she was only 41...that has made me very aware of my mortality!

Unknown said...

My mom and aunt have done something similar - emails that each other have that are to be sent to certain people in the chance they die. It's a bit strange to think about (cuz, ya know, is my mom and aunt), but it makes sense. At the same time, we lost my grandpa very suddenly and that started the whole thing. It makes sense, just not something a lot of people want to talk about. But, this kind of "just in case" is a good thing to plan for! Not good in a happy way, but good in prepared way (sort of like emergency food storage, that kind of thing). Sorry for the rambles xD

Helen Barbour said...

Jessica, thanks for your comments - I agree, I think this kind of planning can give people a lot of comfort. However, most are reluctant to think about, let alone talk about or plan for, their own death!