Making waves after you die

1 February 2017

Working within the Legacy department of a local hospice means I have been witness to a very specific type of experience. It usually happens when you mention the words “make a Will”.

Whether you are speaking to fellow events fundraisers, nurses, or supporters, you have crossed a line. You have made them think about “that which must not be mentioned”. About their own mortality. And that life, whether they are here or not, will go on.

“Don’t be so morbid”

As a rule, unless forced into it, people avoid thoughts beyond their own existence at all costs. Comments like “don’t be so morbid” and “Wills are depressing” are part of my daily conversation.

As I write I can imagine two groups of readers nodding in agreement. The first, those who subscribe to this idea that talking about Wills (especially in a hospice environment where death is an ever-present guest) is in poor taste. The second, legacy fundraisers, those who have a Will in place, or solicitors who know that making a Will can be one of the most positive and empowering acts.

Your Will is your way of carrying on your story. Of telling the people you love how much they mean to you. Of choosing and having control over what happens to your family and possessions. Of remembering a charity you support during your lifetime.

Working within a charity you notice that people’s final wishes tell a story. They paint a vivid picture of the person they were and what mattered to them. Of the desire to do good after their death. Of the wish to look after family first and then leave a little to a cause close to their heart.

I’m hoping that one day we will be able to change this culture of ours so that death and Wills are no longer a taboo.

That people who sit within my first group of readers no longer recoil at the words ‘make a Will’ and instead smile, seeing this practise for what it is. An extension of what made a person unique in life that can continue their story and make ripples and waves even after they’re gone.

Find out more about making a Will.

Jenny Peake, individual giving manager at Douglas Macmillan Hospice