Nobody knows more about dying than Margie Jenkins – she wrote the book on it.
Jenkins, 93, wrote “You Only Die Once: Preparing for the End of Life With Grace and Gusto” and also put together a workshop on preparing for death that’s touring the country — beginning in Austin. Jenkins has worked as a psychotherapist in Houston for 35 years and treated a lot of clients facing end-of-life issues.
“We’re all going to die someday, but nobody wants to talk about it,” Jenkins says, “and it’s kind of treated like a secret.”
Most of her clients didn’t have any idea how to prepare for death. That’s why she wrote the book and developed the planning course. But she says she started thinking about death long before her professional career.
“My best friend when I was a little girl in Southgate, Kentucky, was the gravedigger’s daughter,” Jenkins says. “When her father would dig a fresh grave, Maddy and I would jump down in the grave and hold hands and lie and be very quiet and play dead.”
Planning for the end of life can be fun, according to Jenkins. She and her husband sent a letter to their kids inviting them to walk through their house to note 10 things they would like to have someday. It gave the family a chance to talk about the history behind pictures and furniture.
“I feel like, to plan for the end of life, gives you permission to think about how you want to be remembered,” she says, “where you want your possessions to go.”
When her husband died, she had to face her own challenges with death. But she says being prepared made sure his final wishes were fulfilled.
“The four kids came and they knew what he wanted, they planned the memorial service,” Jenkins says. “So I knew what to do. Our kids knew what to do.”
She recommends writing love letters to send a final message.
“So many times I hear people say, all I had was his will, and I had this money that was left, but I wished I’d had some special letter from my father who died,” Jenkins says. “And if you need to forgive people, you do, if you need to congratulate them. I think it’s important to tell people that you’re proud of them.”
Post by Sunny Sone.