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by Abigail Van Buren

Brother's Sudden Death Prompts Single Mother to Be Prepared

DEAR ABBY: My 29-year-old brother died suddenly last month. It was completely unexpected. He left behind a wife and 1-year-old son.

Although they lived across the country, she allowed us to bring him home for his funeral and burial. I took care of a lot of the arrangements on this end, while she took care of things there and made travel arrangements.

At 26, I never expected to be planning a funeral! But it has made me realize how unprepared I was for any unforeseen event. Please remind your young readers that it's never too early to take care of some basic plans, including a will. As a single mother, I know how unprepared I was if something should happen to me. While it's not a pleasant thought, it's tougher on the survivors if nothing is in place. When it comes to mortality, it's better to be practical and prepared. -- STILL GRIEVING, BUT NOW PREPARED

DEAR STILL GRIEVING: Please accept my sympathy for the untimely loss of your brother. I can only imagine how shocking this has been for your family.

Mortality isn't a subject that younger people usually dwell on. But if they want what they have to be distributed according to their wishes, or if there are children involved, it's important to put their wishes in writing regardless of their age.

Readers: This includes what you would or would not like done if you can't speak for yourself. Do you want to be on artificial life support if there is no hope for your recovery? How do you feel about becoming an organ donor? Put it in writing!

I read recently about a young woman whose family learned only after her tragic death that she wanted to be an organ donor. Fortunately, they found out BEFORE the funeral.

Read more in: Death | Family & Parenting