As A Single Mom, I Need My Kids To Know My Dying Wishes

Originally Published: 

This summer I headed out for an early morning run. My oldest heard me shuffling around and stumbled out of his room.

“Be careful of the fog, Mom,” he said to me, his eyes barely open.

It’s rare I see my son come alive before I leave for my daily dose of self-inflicted pain, especially during summer vacation when the morning is his to sleep away.

He saw I had on my florescent shirt, and I reassured him I’d be extra careful.

As the droplets collected on my hair and eyelashes, I turned on my Super Soul Sunday podcast and realized that now that I am a divorced mom, sans significant other, what if something did happen to me suddenly?

What if I didn’t come back from this run? What if, after dropping them off at their dad’s, I got into a car crash and was on life support?

Years ago I told my then-husband what I wanted should I die, but my kids have no idea what those wishes are. Now, they are it. I’m not married to their father any longer, and they should know what their mother wants.

Actually talking with my kids about my dying wishes is just one step in a many-step process I’d overlooked. Those wishes also need to be written down and my kids need to be aware of where the document is kept. It’s also imperative to have a living will and legally binding estate plan in place in case the worst happens.

If it hadn’t been for my oldest son reminding me to be careful, I don’t know if it ever would have crossed my mind to tell them all the things I wanted if I should die.

So we did it. We had the conversation.

I told them I didn’t want a formal funeral with an open casket. I told them I want a celebration with music and chocolate cake and cheeseburgers. I want dancing and bow ties and high heels and bubbles and twinkle lights. I told them I don’t want to stay on life support either. I want to be free of machines that make it possible for my heart to beat and for me to take a breath. I reassured them that all the parts of me they loved will be floating around them and they might miss it if they are staring at a vacant body. I needed to make sure that wouldn’t be the last vision they had of me.

I told tell them all these things because what if they see these things happening, and they are blindsided?What if they wonder if this is what I really wanted because I never took the time to sit down with them and tell them?

I don’t want my kids wondering if I wanted something more traditional. I don’t want them hearing about how my Day Of Remembrance will go from my mother or sisters.

I want them to hear it from me. I want them to already know how things are going to go down so they can be a bit more mentally prepared in a horrible situation. More than that, I want them to have a say in it and be a part of it.

The chances of this happening are slim, but I’d rather have peace in my heart knowing my kids are aware of what I want should I suddenly pass, instead of feeling like they weren’t a part of these decisions.

I wasn’t really looking forward to having this talk with them, but I knew if I put it off, life would pile on top of this much needed conversation so I did it as soon as I got home from my run before our day got busy and while we were all in the same place instead of scheduling something and announcing we had to have a family meeting later in the week.

I told them all the things I’d thought about on my run before they left my memory, as plans often do.

Was it a bit morbid and hard for me? Yes, it was all of that. They are teenagers and, to them, the weight of the conversation didn’t sink in. But I kept it pretty short and light.

“This is weird, Mom,” they said. I could tell by their lack of responsiveness to this issue they weren’t able to wrap their heads around it, and they probably think it’s never going to happen so they don’t really need to worry about it very much.

They were anxious to change to the subject and I decided since I’d gotten the major point across, that was probably enough for now.

But we had the talk over some chocolate cake and it really lightened the mood.

This article was originally published on