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How to Face Your Fears and Make an End-of-Life Plan


We understand that death is a fear-inducing and anxiety-producing subject. Here are some suggestions on how to face your fears and make a plan. 

Most people know the type of end-of-life care they want, but only a few have written their wishes in a legal instrument. A study commissioned by Vitas Hospice at the University of Chicago found that only 22 percent of American adults have documented their wishes. And according to our partner, Cake, your family faces 500 hours of work if you don’t make an end-of-life plan. 

5 Reasons Why We Delay End-of-Life Planning

There are several reasons why some people do not make plans for their final days, including funeral arrangements. 


Death is a sensitive, and often avoided, topic for many people. Some individuals may have a psychological aversion to confronting their mortality, making it challenging to engage in end-of-life planning. Superstition plays a role, too — if I plan for my passing, I’m more likely to die sooner. 


Some people wait until the last minute to file taxes, pay bills, and do other unpleasant but necessary tasks. And younger, healthy individuals don’t feel a sense of urgency, believing that they have plenty of time to take care of it later.

Lack of Awareness

Some people may not fully understand the importance or benefits of making funeral plans. They might be unaware of the potential burden their loved ones may face in making decisions during grief or the options for preplanning a funeral. 

Cultural or Religious Factors

Cultural or religious beliefs and practices can influence an individual's approach to funeral planning. In some cultures or religions, it is customary for the family or community to handle the funeral arrangements without prior planning by the deceased.

Emotional Reasons 

Planning one's funeral can be emotionally distressing for some people. They may prefer to avoid confronting their mortality or find it too difficult to think about the details and decisions involved.

5 Reasons to Face Your Fears & Plan Ahead

Your feelings, including the fear of dying and death, are valid. The fear of death is one of human beings’ top phobias. However, none of us are immortal. Accepting a fact doesn’t mean we have to like it — and there are many reasons, both loving and practical, why you should face your fears and plan ahead. 

Protect Your Family

Most of us want to protect our loved ones from additional stress after we’re gone. Leaving detailed instructions using the necessary legal documents removes the burden on your family. They won’t have to guess about the type of healthcare you want or the funeral service you’d prefer. Instead, they can concentrate on celebrating your life and legacy. 

Will Protect Your Assets

Individuals who die without a valid Will could leave their loved ones vulnerable to probate court. Depending on where you live and your financial assets, dying without an estate plan could have significant tax implications, too. 

Choose Your Heirs

Making an end-of-life plan ensures you decide how your estate and personal belongings are distributed. Again, it would be up to a probate judge to determine who gets what, even if that is not what you would have wanted. 

Protect Minor Children

You can designate a legal guardian in your absence if you have young children. You may not want any doubt about who should be in charge of such an important responsibility.

Decide on Care

Your end-of-life plan should include clear instructions on what type of care you wish to receive. Perhaps you want aggressive treatment for an incurable disease, or maybe you prefer to have palliative care through hospice. You can designate someone to speak on your behalf if you cannot. 

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How to Overcome Procrastination 

Planning ahead can alleviate stress on loved ones, ensure personal wishes are met, and provide a sense of control and peace of mind. Many of us have good intentions, but overcoming inertia is challenging. If you are willing to make an end-of-life plan, here are a few strategies to overcome procrastination. Reward yourself for completing each phase, whether it’s your favorite coffee or another treat. Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to stay on track!

Take Small, Manageable Steps

Set your watch or phone timer for 20 minutes, and begin your end-of-life planning by reading our expert advice guides on the subject (our friends at Cake have excellent resources, too). Don’t worry about taking action right now. You are gathering information about wills, advanced directives, and power of attorney. 

Write Down What You Want

Again, set a specific day to take notes on what you consider a “best-case scenario” for the end of life. Think about who you trust to act on your behalf should you become unable to represent yourself. Consider which family member or trusted friend should be your child’s legal guardian. Ask yourself what kind of medical care you want if you face an incurable disease. 

Tell Your Family and Friends

Always ask the person (or people, if you have alternatives) you want as your healthcare surrogate, power of attorney, or legal guardian for your children if they are willing and able to accept the responsibility. Talk to your family and influential people in your life about your plans. While it’s ultimately your choice, discussing your plan with those who know you best is helpful. 

Talk to Experts 

Once you have a clear idea about your end-of-life plan, consult experts who create the tangible and legal details. These include estate planning attorneys, financial planners, or life insurance agents. You do not have to hire a lawyer to create a legally valid will, but many people find it reassuring. 

Consider Prepaid Direct Cremation

Direct cremation is the most straightforward and affordable of funeral arrangements. You can still choose a permanent memorial in your house of worship’s cemetery, a cremation garden, a columbarium niche, or have your ashes scattered in a favorite place. Tulip offers prepaid arrangements that protect you and your family from rising prices. You can even add away-from-home protection for total peace of mind. 

Finalize Your End-of-Life Plan

Gather the necessary documents (such as a will, power of attorney, trust papers, and prepaid funeral arrangements) and get them properly signed, notarized, and witnessed. Keep them in a secure place, such as a fireproof home safe, and make copies for the individuals you selected to act on your behalf. 

"The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." (Nelson Mandela)

Many of us prefer not to dwell on the things that scare us, including losing a loved one or our final days. But once you accept mortality as a fact of life and plan accordingly, you will likely be less frightened and more determined to make the best of every day.