Tasks of the Executor

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Why are we afraid of death and dying?  Are we afraid of death itself or of the dying process? For many, dying can take a very long time while for others it is instantaneous or comes quickly after a diagnosis or accident. The process of dying is not usually a pleasant one for the person who is dying or for family and friends. When one has known for months or even years that a loved one has a terminal illness, when the person dies it is still a shock and very painful. I can relate to this situation very well as my Dad had a stroke leaving him unable to speak and with minimal use of his right limbs for 7 years before he finally succumbed. My Mum suffered for 6 months before she died. In each case, even though others expected us to be prepared for these deaths, it was very painful when the final moment came.

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Have you any idea what happens to your social media sites when you die.  When I wrote my book, The Legal Aspects of Dying, I did not give a thought to social media sites and whether our own will continue after we have left planet earth. On page 46 of my book I do give some things to think about such as what could happen if you leave gold fillings in a deceased person’s mouth – the gold gets stolen! I also caution family and friends to ensure that the dates on all certificates etc are correct or it can turn out very expensive, especially if ICU and Death Certificate dates are not compatible. In the final chapter on making our own preparations so that it will not be a burden to our families I thought that I had included everything but then came along an article on what I forgot.

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The awful pain of the death of a loved one has been brought much closer this past month. My cousins have had to sit by the bedside of their mother for two weeks in December and, as I write this, they are sitting at their elderly, frail father’s bedside. The pain that they are enduring is something that I can only imagine. They have to find a deep and inner strength to carry them through these next few days, weeks and months.

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While in China, Annette Jahnel1 noted the accumulation of wealth by a few in a society which was not accustomed to it until fairly recently but the lack of wisdom in how it was used shocked her. It seemed as if their desire for all to see their wealth was extraordinary. When in a restaurant, for example, exorbitant amounts of food were ordered even if this resulted in massive waste. Other ways of ensuring that others knew about their newly acquired wealth was the abundance of fancy shoes and clothes, jewellery, furs and large cars. In a country where millions live in dire poverty this display of wealth was quite shocking to the system.  It struck me that here in South Africa we have a similar issue with the newly acquired wealth of those who previously were unable to accumulate such material wealth and the millions of poor.

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December, the month in which we as Christians remember the birth of Christ on earth; a month of great celebration but for some also of real sadness.  Not only do Christians celebrate new life at this time but, today, it has become a time of parties and presents for everyone.  But that is not what I want to write about today but rather of how December 2012 started and ended for some of us as we experienced both the joy of new life as well as the sadness of death.

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