Francis Mason-Hornby, Registrar of the Dalton Woodland Burial Ground says it is never too early to plan for one’s own death

MOST of us have heard of the idea of having a ‘Bucket List’; a list of things to try, do, see, visit or achieve before we ‘kick the bucket’, as popularised in the 2007 film ‘The Bucket List’ starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.

But how many of us have a list actions to be taken once we have ‘kicked the bucket’?

Have you discussed with your family and friends what you would like to happen to your body after you die? How would you like to be remembered?

Have you made a will? Do you really want ‘Stairway to Heaven’ played at your funeral?

Does someone know where you keep all your important documents? What about all those passwords we increasingly have to remember? What about your digital legacy?

According to recently published research by Oxford University, by 2069 the dead could outnumber the living on Facebook; in 2012, only eight years after launch, around 30 million users had died.

A couple of years ago, I was showing a sprightly couple in their eighties around the burial ground and we were chatting about how important it is to talk about death, to make plans and just as importantly let others know your plans.

I mentioned the old adage about sex education in schools “talking about sex doesn’t get you pregnant” with regards to talking about death doesn’t hasten death and he remarked, looking over to his wife, “in my opinion talking about sex doesn’t get you sex either.”

These are some of the basic ‘life housekeeping’ tasks that we really should tackle now. It is never too early to plan ahead, as any one of us could be run over by the proverbial bus tomorrow.

The first step is to make a will as soon as possible (and take legal advice, if necessary). Putting your legal and financial affairs in order will ensure you’re not leaving behind any complicated issues for your family to have to deal with during an already difficult time.

Secondly, if you would like to donate any organ or tissue, including your brain, to medical science, you can make what is called an ‘Advance Decision’ and you can also make your wishes known simply by writing it down and informing your family and your GP.

As well as what happens at the end of your life, it’s also important to consider the care you would like towards the end. For instance, where you would like to die and whether you wish to continue any life-prolonging treatment.

This can be made by anyone of sound mind over the age of 18 and should be done earlier rather than later, in case you are unable to make decisions for yourself in the future.

Give some thought also to how you would like to be remembered – would you like to leave messages for those you love? You could even do this in the form of a ‘memory box’ or a video.

Finally, planning your funeral arrangements is vital.

Together with the decision of being either buried or cremated, think about the kind of service you would like. For example, hymns, music and readings. Again, you can put this in your will, or simply write it down and give it to someone you trust.

We are all going to die, it is a fact of life. Unfortunately, some of us will die much sooner than others, but the time to start your preparation is now and some sensible planning will be a huge comfort to those you leave behind as you embark on the next great adventure.