199 Writing Death Instructions

People don’t do this well.  Because writing death instructions is hard.

And time consuming.  And annoying.  And not exactly how anyone would see themselves wasting time in the last day, week, or month of life.  Annoying again.

There must be an instruction manual.  Jan handed me a planner; it wasn’t personal at that point.  I can look for it.

My Living Will had a lot of spaces for instructions, long form, lots of blanks.

If a person leaves no guidance, it is very difficult.  If they leave instructions, that can be just as concerning.  Dad wrote a line on an instruction sheet.  “I would rather not live in a nursing home.”  It burns!  Pushing three years.  My heart aches for him.  

Service or no memorial.  Lots of people, only close people.  Musical choices, spiritual readings.  Casket or cremation.  Location of remains.  Disbursement of property. (Tip: don’t leave your underwear for your daughter in law.  Please throw away all of my undergarments!  Should be obvious. I don’t have a daughter in law, so hopefully this is just an echo of being one.)

It takes a lot of thought, a ton of conversation, and effort.

Kwami and I began a video journey around the house.  It is a start.  I am talking about what has history, and what is junk.  What items have a story or belong to certain family members in the event that the kids don’t want to hang onto the heirlooms.  Just stories.  History.  But the vase is just a vase without the story.  We finished the kitchen and family room.  The bedroom will be so much trickier, with all of the spiritual stuff and gifts received, the things I “value”, and that look like a cultural museum of oddity.  My artwork.  My creations.  Others’ forms of beauty.  

This is part of the adventure.  It is part of embracing the book we read months ago, Stephen Levine, A Year to Live.  Releasing.  Completing.  Untying myself from the stuff.  Going through drawers and stacks, sorting out the recycling and the items that are ready to be repurposed.  It is constant.  

We are being called to purpose.  We need to clear the clutter of the mind.  The clutter of the future.  The clutter that death clamors to create.

Author: Michele Plumb Stowell

Michele Stowell was a teacher, a hand holder, and encouraging voice. Born an early Gen Xer, she has lived in Western Washington for the duration. Her children, two spectacular genetic daughters and an uncountable number of marvelous scout and school sons and daughters, shine as her biggest impact and her greatest blessing. Just before her 54th birthday, Michele was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Her writing and art work are expressions of the drama and the joy of living earth bound. On October 24, 2021, Michele was released from her physical body, transported to continue her work on other realms.

2 thoughts on “199 Writing Death Instructions”

  1. Wow, Video instructions, that’s a great idea and very forward thinking. I’m thinking what that would feel like as I look around my house. More to contemplate…


    1. The Christmas boxes are unpacked. And this is another hour video at least. I feel good about how it works out though. I think it will allow for a lot of things to go that are just items I use or love, but have no connection or energy. I hope it makes it easier on the kids (readers note, my kids are well into adulthood). I’m laughing to myself when I picture Rylie dealing with your accumulation of art and antiques. The words she may speak! It’s even more amusing to picture myself leaving things to you that she will ultimately need to “disperse”. Sorry Rylie! : )


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