Curious minds select the most fascinating podcasts from around the world. Discover hand-piqd audio recommendations on your favorite topics.
Michaela Haas, PhD, is the award-winning author of four non-fiction books, most recently Bouncing Forward: The Art and Science of Cultivating Resilience (Simon&Schuster). She is a member of the Solutions Journalism Network and writes a weekly solutions column for the German Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin. Her articles have been published on CBS, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, Daily Beast, and many other reputable media.
Amy Pickard wears a T-shirt with the slogan "Life is a near-death experience". This upbeat former entertainment producer wants you to figure out who gets your belongings when you die, decide who is going to make decisions for you should you become incapacitated, and spell out exactly what you want done with your remains – especially if you're still young.
It's actually a huge issue: Two-thirds of people don't have written wills, among the younger crowd under 45 more than 80 percent have made no provisions for the end—but don't we all know someone our age who passed away unexpectedly? "Americans put Halloween decorations everywhere", Amy notices with a laugh, "but we don't want to think about our own mortality."
Amy never planned to become "the death girl", but after unexpectedly losing her mother, she realized how much the chaos impacted her mourning. Rather than having time to grieve, she had to become a business detective. "Does she have online accounts and where are the passwords? Who do I need to call?" Afterward, she took a year off and developed Good to Go, "to provide the guide I wish I'd had".
She hosts parties where you gather your closest friends and families (guests bring cocktails and the favorite dish of a deceased loved one), and think about the things that bring you the most joy and how you would like things to be taken care of when you go. "It's great to discuss this at a party, but not so great to discuss this in the E.R." Sounds like fun? Knockin' On Heaven's Door and Another One Bites the Dust are on top of her playlists. I interviewed her for my German solutions column, but highly recommend this podcast with Lisa Napoli.
The Scandinavians even have a term for this: dostadning, "death cleaning". Margareta Magnusson, author of the book "The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning", has learned, "When you think about the things you want to leave, life itself falls into place".