U.S. News and World Report: Margie Jenkins apologizes for being slow to respond to a recent email, saying she has just returned from a cruise to celebrate her 90th birthday. Jenkins believes in living the good life, but for her, this also means planning for the good death. Like a lot of us, her views were shaped by her family experiences.
When her aging father could no longer live independently in his home, she recalls, he was despondent about leaving behind a lifetime of memories and going to an institution that could accommodate few of his possessions. Jenkins, a Houston psychotherapist, recognized that her dad was engaged in a difficult, but natural, grieving process. Her therapy for her father included placing a tape recorder on the kitchen table and letting her dad say goodbye to his home.
“We just walked through the house, and he talked about all the things in the house – what they meant to him and who in the family he wanted to have them,” she recalls. “Later on, after he had moved out, he said to me, ‘That was a real gift to me. Thank you.'”
That memory stayed with Jenkins, who has spent decades on a personal crusade to bring plans for dying into the conversations people have with their spouses and family members. Other groups, like The Conversation Project, have similar goals.