Birth and Death.

The first inhale and the last exhale, bookending a life. Grave markers typically list a year of birth and a year of death, separated by a hyphen. One tiny hyphen representing a life’s experience and countless stories of love and loss, joy and sorrow, beginnings and endings.

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What’s your hyphen?

Here at Before I’m 6 Feet Under (or BI6FU, as we call it, tongue planted firmly in cheek), questioning the hyphen is our jam. So much so that we consider it one of life’s most important tasks. After all, what’s more important than figuring out your purpose?

And, IOHO, no hyphen conversation worth having can be had without inviting death to the party. Who else can help you put everything into perspective so quickly? Who else can help you get to the heart of the matter so directly? Who else can serve to remind you that there’s only so much time to make your hyphen as glorious as you can?

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Are you curious?

If you’re curious about questioning your hyphen, you’ve come to the right place. Here at BI6FU, we welcome and celebrate the questions. We encourage the thoughtful, respectful, and curious. We hold space for the fear, denial, and avoidance. We support conversation, reflection, and action. Both the practical and the philosophical live here. Grab a beverage and settle in. Explore. Move toward your ultimate destination consciously and intentionally.

Rock your hyphen.

Need Help Answering Your Questions?
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Ask yourself:

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Having “The Talk”

Don’t wait until a crisis occurs – have the talk now while you’re healthy. Don’t leave your loved ones questioning the decisions they’ve had to make without your direction; it becomes a guessing game that results in guilt and regret or that causes contention and hard feelings. Planning now for your death is the last, loving gift you can give to your loved ones; it allows them to focus on one another in their grief and loss and to rest easy in the comfort of knowing that they did everything just as you wished.

Need Help Preparing for “The Talk”?
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Starting the conversation.

Focus on the practical. Take advantage of deaths in the news or of others known to you to say that they’ve got you thinking about your own end-of-life choices. You might comment on the service, expressing your likes and dislikes and asking what your loved ones think. For example, some folks have strong feelings about whether masses of flowers at a service are a beautiful testament or a waste of money better given to a charitable or medical cause. The idea is to get the conversation going around the choices made by others as a way to gain clarity about what your own choices might be. So, even if you’re not clear about what you want yet, engaging in conversations about what others have chosen is a good way to begin the process.

Need help starting the conversation?
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What do you see?

Imagining your final days gives you the opportunity to consider your version of a “good death.” Do you see yourself dying at home, surrounded by your loved ones? Most folks do, yet 80% of people die in a hospital or nursing home, hooked up to machines and in the presence of strangers. If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, do you want to be kept alive at all costs, despite the pain and suffering, or do you want to forego invasive treatments and procedures and just be kept comfortable for the time you have left? Eighty-eight percent of physicians, while trained to provide the former for their patients, actually choose the latter, comfort care, for themselves. Interesting, right?

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What’s the next step?

If you’ve already made your decisions and documented them (high five!), your next step may be to help your loved ones do the same. Again, focusing on the practical is a good way to ease into it, especially with folks who may initially feel that talking about death is uncomfortable, frightening, and morbid. Attending a Death Café together (deathcafe.com) is another great way to begin the conversation.

Remember, talking about death doesn’t bring it closer or cause us to die sooner; talking about death is instead one of the best ways to engage in living. Accepting that we will die one day helps us to deeply understand that our lives are finite. Everyone alive has a sell-by date, so let’s embrace this life and those we love while we can!

Need help starting the conversation?

What would you do if you knew how much time you have left?

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Plan for death. Live your life.

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