In the New York Times this week there was a piece on the importance of talking with your parents about their financial affairs. We couldn't agree more.

Talking to your family—whether parents talking to children, or children talking to parents—is one of the most important things we can do to prepare ourselves for the future. Financial, legal, and medical issues are going to come up for all of us. Knowing what mom or dad wants, and having those wishes spelled out in legal documents, not only relieves adult children of a huge burden, but also ensures that parents' financial and medical instructions are followed in the way they want. Naming a power of attorney and health care proxy is the first step that parents should take. Creating a will is essential as well, especially if parents have complex assets or young children. And organizing passwords and important documents, and then actually sharing the location of that information, is the third essential to-do. These are difficult conversations to have, and the logistics can feel overwhelming, but everyone will benefit in the end.

And to read about other people's experiences in planning (and not planning), check out the comments section of the piece.

via New York Times

Judy MacDonald Johnston, creator of Good [End Of] Life, gave a powerful talk at the TED conference this year. It inspired us; we hope it inspires you.

If you've been looking for another platform on which to engage with Everplans, your day has come. In addition to Facebook and Twitter, Everplans is now on Pinterest!

Check it out and let us know what you think! We'll be adding new images all the time.

How much planning have you done? How does it compare to the amount of planning done on average in this country?

via eFuneral

How does a funeral home advertise its services without being crass, creepy, or morbid? A Japanese funeral home, Nishinihon Tenrei, has tried (and succeeded, we think) by creating a beautiful ad featuring a skeleton made from pressed flowers. The agency that created the ad, I&S BBDO, wrote about the challenges of the project: 

The March 11th earthquake and tsunami had a traumatic effect on Japan. Issues of life and death, hope and despair, beauty and tragedy became an all too real part of people's everyday lives.

These images are thoughtful, sensitive, and visually stunning. We'd love to see American funeral homes take a cue from this campaign and develop modern, compelling images that speak to death with this much grace.

via ConnectingDirectors

Tags:

This Sunday, as is tradition in the United States on the second Sunday in May, children will celebrate their mothers with cards and flowers and drugstore chocolates—the single day of the year when mothers are supposed to be pampered and recognized for all that they do.

For many of us, the commercialism that has become the "holiday" that is essentially about respecting your mother seems more than a little absurd. If you're in this camp—offended by the price of carnations in May, repelled by a mimosa brunch, and someone who believes that mothers (and fathers...and all the people you love, for that matter) should be appreciated on more than just one day of the year—you're not alone. Anna Jarvis is with you.

In 1905, the mother of a woman named Anna Jarvis died, and the young Ms. Jarvis decided to create a holiday to remember her mother. As she saw it, her mother had done so much for her, and she wanted to carve out time for all Americans to remember their mothers, even after their mothers were gone. Only 9 years later, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared Mother's Day a national holiday. And, as the story goes, it was all downhill from there.

When some infidels took it upon themselves to add a “happy” to the sentiment—as in “Happy Mother’s Day!”—Miss Jarvis threatened them with legal action. As far as Anna Jarvis was concerned, there was nothing “happy” about what had happened to a day intended for personal remembrance, and so she spent the rest of her life attempting to dismantle the institution she had created.

The true sentiment behind Mother's Day (which is, for the record, "Mother's Day" and not "Mothers' Day") is a good one. It's important to be thankful, to acknowledge the ways that others have helped us throughout our lives, and to mourn the people we've loved who are gone. This is not a call for an Anna Jarvis-style Mother's Day takeover. But it is a reminder that, behind all the commercialism, Mother's Day is a good reminder to appreciate those we love, not just on the second Sunday in May, but everyday.

via Babble

An obituary that ran in a Portland, Oregon newspaper last week featured some unmistakably familiar names...

Margaret Groening is the mother of Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. Her family (or at least their names) clearly served as the inspiration for many of Springfield's most famous characters.

Gretchen Rubin, author of the mega-bestselling book The Happiness Project, gave Everplans a lovely shout-out on her blog this weekend.

Two of Gretchen's "Twelve Personal Commandments" for happiness are "Do what ought to be done" and "Do it now." When it comes to planning for yourself and your family, these are two sage pieces of advice. Planning for the end of your life can be scary, both logistically and existentially. But making these preparations is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your children, your spouse, and yourself. We'd like to echo Gretchen's Commandments. Click here to get started.

In the May issue of The Atlantic, Jonathan Rauch looks into the work of two doctors, Dr. Angelo Volandes and his wife Dr. Aretha Delight Davis, who are making a series of videos to help people make better end-of-life decisions. The videos are a response to what Dr. Volandes believes is "the most urgent issue facing America today...people getting medical interventions that, if they were more informed, they would not want."

As an unintended consequence of the advanced state of medical technology and the medical establishment's mandate to save lives, many people at the end of their lives are faced with a problem unique to our times: unwanted treatment. Rauch writes, "The U.S. medical system was built to treat anything that might be treatable, at any stage of life—even near the end, when there is no hope of a cure, and when the patient, if fully informed, might prefer quality time and relative normalcy to all-out intervention."

Though there are no statistics on the number of patients who receive unwanted treatment at the end of life, medical professionals seem to agree that because patients make healthcare decisions without being fully informed, many are receiving unwanted treatments as a default. But most doctors are not prepared or able enough communicators to speak with patients about their options.

And so, in response, Dr. Volandes and Dr. Davis are developing a tool to help patients and families make fully informed decisions around their medical care, and better communicate with their doctors. Their videos show patients with a variety of illnesses, and Dr. Davis explains what the most common treatment options are for the condition, and actually shows people receiving those treatments. Then she suggests that people have The Conversation: an open, honest talk with one's doctor about one's condition, the treatment options, and the benefits and risks or drawbacks of each treatment option.

Rauch describes The Conversation this way, in terms of his own father's care:

The momentum of medical maximalism should have slowed long enough for a doctor or a social worker to sit down with him and me to explain, patiently and in plain English, his condition and his treatment options, to learn what his goals were for the time he had left, and to establish how much and what kind of treatment he really desired.

With his video series, Dr. Volandes hopes to create a platform for true communication between doctors and patients. His goal is that, through systematizing The Conversation, more people will receive less unwanted treatment. Only with communication and The Conversation, and tools like Dr. Volandes' video series, can real change come to the medical establishment's default approach to treating patients at the end of life.

via The Atlantic

Friend-of-Everplans Mark Dimor is producing a documentary that we think is both powerful and important. The film is inspired by the experience Mark had of caring for his wife Donna after she was diagnosed with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer and given six months to live. Donna immediately began receiving palliative care, which helped her live comfortably and without suffering for three years after her diagnosis—and helped Mark "focus on Donna—not her passing."

Mark writes:

As I look back on my wife’s illness and death, I can see how palliative care and hospice gave us the beautiful gift of life, peace, and time. Because of this approach, I was able to celebrate who she was and the love we shared, rather than concentrate on her death. Her passing was about what we had, not what was lost.

Mark is making this film to help patients and families make the best choices at what is, for many people, the hardest time in their lives. "By making this film," he writes, "I hope to give back what I received through palliative care and hospice. With your help, we can eradicate the fear and misunderstandings so that more people can share this gift of comfort and peace."

[via Indiegogo]