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Handbook for Mortals : Things To Do When Time May Be Short

Very important

  1. Spend time with people who are important to you.
  2. Create a legacy for those who care about you; letters, a tape recording, or a video can be a special gift for your children and grandchildren.
  3. Call or visit an old friend and tell your story to those who will live on.
  4. Accept some compliments and gratitude (don't make people wait until the funeral!).
  5. Forgive yourself, and seek to make things right within your own faith.
  6. Say "I love you," "I'm sorry," "Forgive me," and "I forgive you."
  7. Right old wrongs.
  8. Take a "last trip" or two (and do it again if time allows).
  9. Make time for spiritual issues and struggles.
  10. Say goodbye (or "until we meet again").
  11. Eventually, be at peace with the end to come, and the uncertainty of when you will die.


  1. Make plans so that care and treatment will be as close as possible to what you want.
  2. Specifically decide about resuscitation, hospitalization, and, if it might be important, artificial feeding.
  3. Choose someone to make decisions for you if you are too sick to make them for yourself.
  4. Write a will and help pass along obligations for your job and finances.

These lists are based in part on the work of Ira Byock, M.D.

To learn more about the book "Handbook for Mortals" click here.