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The story of a final gift to loved ones and a community

This Thanksgiving season spend a little time telling those around you how much you appreciate them – here is the guidance from Debi Barger, “Write a letter to someone and tell them how they have had a positive effect on your life.”

Several weeks ago, we ran across this story of a final gift that one woman left to her family and community. She wrote her own obituary. She admitted that she did not like the typical style, but it also lifted one burden from her daughter’s shoulders.

A terminal cancer diagnosis

The community of Moorhead, a Public Works department and West Fargo put up their Christmas lights early this year to fulfill a last wish. Unfortunately, they were not quick enough and the woman, Debi Barger, passed away before getting to see them.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that Barger still knew about and appreciated the community’s unbelievably special last gift. But back to the obituary that she wrote, because it is too good not to share. Here is a snippet:

“I am using this chance to say thank you to all the people who helped me along the way. Those who loved me, assisted me, cared for me, laughed with me and taught me things so that I could have a wonderful, happy life. I was blessed beyond measure by knowing all of you. That is what made my life worthwhile.”

“If you think of me, and would like to do something in honor of my memory do this: …

  • Turn off the electronics and take your child or children out for ice cream and talk to them about their hopes and dreams.
  • Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it.
  • Stop at all lemonade-stands run by kids and brag about their product.
  • Make someone smile today if it is in your power to do so.”

Not everyone has the thought to draft their own obituary, but this one was beautifully written and unique. It also embodies some of the sentiment of this season.

Estate planning conversations

It is not necessary to write your own obituary, but having powers of attorney in place can allow loved ones to keep paying bills if you can no longer handle your affairs. Including a gift to a charitable organization removes the guesswork for your heirs over how much or what charity you may have wanted to support.

Planning for end-of-life issues as well as legacy gifts can also be a final gift to family and friends. When you are ready to put your wishes into writing and build a comprehensive estate plan, consult an experienced estate planning attorney.

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