May 12, 2012

Welcome to the Black Folder Project™

Since 2001 I have had a Black Folder.

Why A Black Folder?
I gathered things together like my Last Will and Testament and Life Insurance Policies for my only son.  I had many of these documents scattered throughout my files and I just decided to put them in one place. When I was organizing I happened to find a black folder and decided to put the documents in that black folder.

My son was not quite an adult at that time.  I thought the easiest way for him to remember where to look for these important documents was to tell him that no matter what to look for a black folder.  There he would find what he needed to take care of business and carry on. 

Adding Letters in the Black Folder
Over the years I decided that just having the legal documents in this folder was not enough and I should at least write him a note. I was doing a lot of traveling for work at that time.  Almost annually I would write him a letter.  (There were some years that I forgot, or maybe I just was feeling invincible and confident that this wasn't going to be my year, and the previous letters would suffice). 

A Decade Goes By...Death Happens...
Well, many years have passed since I started writing those letters in 2001.  My son is now a grown man and has his own daughter.  This year I found it VERY important to update the black folder.  I went even further than just writing him a letter.

By this time, many loved ones had passed on.  I've attended funerals for my father, brother, uncles, aunts, co-workers and friends.   Some of these funerals I helped plan and others I was just someone sitting in the pew grieving.

At many of these funerals I wondered if the person who died would have planned their funerals the way they turned out. Some of the funerals/home-goings/wakes just didn't seem to depict the life that the person led.  It seems to me like the last dance/last act of a person's life should represent that persons life here on earth. So this year, 2012, I wrote down some plans for my own funeral. I even wrote a letter to those sitting in the pews. (Boy, that was refreshing.)  I wanted those sitting there to hear from me.

I went back and forth between writing about my funeral, updating my son on my financial condition and telling him my wishes for his life and my granddaughters.  It turned into a ten page document! Once I finished my letter I felt like all was well in my world.  I was good.  I was happy.  I wasn't sad.  It wasn't the easiest thing to do, but I felt like I had done my son a favor.  I also felt like I could go on living.  I had really faced the fact that somebody had to plan my passing...and I had just done it...basically for the most part. Yes, there are more details to iron out, but the basics are done.

So, that was it.  I filed the letter in the "black folder" and went on living my day-to-day life.  

The Start of the Black Folder Project ™
One night I looked at my granddaughters picture before I turned off the light to go to sleep.  As I started to doze off I thought --- "wait a minute, I need to put some notes in that Black Folder for her!"

I frantically got out of bed, got the black folder and scribbled some notes to her about my unconditional love for her and that I would always watch over her.  (She's so little, if I got hit by a Mack Truck tomorrow she would never really know me and how much I loved her). Then it was like a bolt of lightening went through me and something said --- "Start the Black Folder Project for others.  Blog about it.  Create a workshop around it.  Go and get some black folder for others and help them create their own Black Folders for their loved ones.  Just do it."

That's how it came to me...just like that...
The Black Folder Project...
no wondering what to call named itself. 
So, this is the start of the Black Folder Project™.  Today, I'll start working on a workshop that will start locally. I hope to help others feel as comfortable as I feel right now that I have come to terms with the ultimate fear, and have helped my son to be prepared for his and my granddaughters future.

Maybe this project will help others go back into the world and live in a way so that they will leave a legacy that will carry on after they are gone....maybe this is my way of helping others.  I don't know, I'm just going with it and looking forward to the people that I'll meet along the way.