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Illustration: Robert Neubecker

AGEIST LONGEVITY

ageist contributors | april 12, 2018

have yourself a death party

Amy Pickard looks more like she belongs on the set of a music video than like someone who’d encourage you to sit down and write out your last will and testament.  That’s exactly why she’s the perfect ambassador for advance planning.  Invite her over to your house for a party with your “soul cluster” of friends or family, and she’ll walk you through all the detailed questions you need to answer so you’re, as she calls it, “good to go.”

Cocktails are a crucial part of the equation.  Guests are encouraged to bring the favorite dish of a deceased love one. Since she started doing this a few years ago, she’s found that people are grateful to have attacked this crucial paperwork together in a festive environment — replete with a special death playlist.

“It’s not somber. It’s not depressing,” she told me a few weeks ago over tea at her kitchen table, where I interviewed her for my podcast, Gracefully.  “I help you plan for your worst case scenario and have fun doing it.  Because while it’s abstract, it’s not as scary.”

Amy discovered the hard way what it’s like when a relative dies and doesn’t leave instructions; she went through it twice.  While processing the “deep cosmic pain” of the losses, she had to guess at their wishes and sleuth out crucial information.  Until then, she herself had been in the mañana camp of such matters herself.  Now, she’s made it her life’s work counseling people about the ins and outs of advance directives and such.  Although she does still work on film sets from time to time. —By AGEIST Contributor Lisa Napoli