Local News

Raleigh Man Tells People What They Should Know Before They Go

Posted November 17, 2003 11:51 a.m. EST

— Death is a difficult topic, and one that many people are not prepared to discuss.

Nevertheless, Paul Humphrey has made it his mission to look death in the eye and to open the eyes of others.

Death is a subject that no longer gives him chills.

Humphrey opened his freezer Monday and reached for -- no, not the ice cream -- his funeral papers.

"Things my family should know if I should die," he said, referring to the frozen document.

Granted, it did not make a very appetizing subject.

"Dying is not something you like to think about," Humphrey said.

Humphrey is with the

Funeral Consumers Alliance of the Triangle.

He spends his days at his dining-room table mailing blue booklets to new members.

The title of the booklet: Before I Go, You Should Know.

The booklet includes "a will, of course," Humphrey said. "That's the most obvious things.

"There are things like do-not-resuscitate forms," he said, "matters of insurance, debts you may owe. You might have as many as 40 different individual decisions that have to be made on the spur of the moment."

Humphrey is used to facing death. He was a meteorologist in World War II and flew into typhoons. He was not prepared for that, he said, just as many people are not prepared for death.

Plus, he said, families often overpay for funerals, like when they dish out $27,000 for a casket.

"Not many people will pay that," he said. "But there are people who will.

Though many people may not be prepared for the end, Humphrey said he is more prepared than ever. He is 83 years old.

"It won't be long before I will die," he said, placing his death document back in the freezer for safekeeping.

That is the cold reality.