While we were at the hospital with my mom, my brother asked me if I had my end-of-life wishes spelled out. I answered that, yes, I had a will, but as I thought about it further I realized that I did not really have any of the details written down and had not communicated the spirit or intent of my desires. As a result, I recently put those thoughts in writing and shared them with my siblings.

We thought we were prepared for the logistics of my mom’s passing: she had pre-paid funeral arrangements, a will, an organ donation form and her financial affairs had been transferred already. But we found ourselves asking about the little things: what she would want to wear, which picture to use, which friends to notify, etc. A will doesn’t touch those kinds of topics.

Many people want to avoid the end-of-life conversations in their personal lives, and they also ignore the issue organizationally. No one is going to be in their position forever, yet few plan for succession. Even the key leader of the organization, where the transition would have the most impact, often leaves their legacy in the hands of others. Or, if they have done any planning at all, it is on a mega-level – like the Secretary of Agriculture would become President if catastrophe struck during the State of the Union, but they leave no more detail or instruction beyond that.

It shouldn’t be a news flash that the end is coming – for all of us. Take some time before it does to share your desires and leave a road map for those who are left behind.

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