Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ups and downs of first week after a parent's death

It has been one week since my Mom died and my brother, sister-in-law, husband, and I are all doing ok. Of course we wish she was still with us and we are glad she is not suffering.

Here's some observations on the first week of grieving and starting to take care of all the things that have to be done.

- It is hard to call people to let them know that your mother has died and the calls lead to lovely stories about their memories of her. Most of the stories I have heard so far are new to me and I am loving the spontaneity of the memories.
- People want to do something to show their love. We are having a private burial and have decided to establish a memorial fund at her beloved local library to honor her. When people ask if they can send flowers and I tell them this is the plan they say "Oh, she would have loved that." so we did the right thing.
- I cried the day she died and since then I have known I was grieving primarily because my spine seems to have lost its ability to hold me up straight. I told my husband I felt like a stuffed animal that had had half its stuffing removed. We all grieve differently and apparently my way this time is very physical. Walks are helping as is time with friends.
- When you are a recovering perfectionist it is very important to be kind and gentle with yourself during a time of grief. I'm letting a lot of things slide and only doing as much as I want to or absolutely must do each day.
- My parents really made settling the estate as easy for us as it possibly could be. Everything is in a trust so no probate, etc. The paperwork/legal involvement is minimal and we are so very grateful.
- We do have to go through the house and personal belongings. Fortunately after my Dad died my Mom made it a mission to declutter as much as possible to leave us with less to do. Still a lot but oh how much harder it would have been if she didn't do that.
- My brother and I really are working well together on this. He is there and I am far away (although I am going there to go through the house with him) so we are finding anything that can be done at a distance and those are my share. Between the two of us we seem to have one sufficient brain in terms of knowing what to ask or do. It has been good to work together.

I have heard so many stories of the difficulties - legal and familial - that other people have had after a parent died, but so far we haven't had any of those. That really, really is helping. Of course we are pretty much a "no drama" family anyway but the preparation that was done is making a huge difference.

I would encourage everyone in our generation to really think about how well they have set up their own affairs and take time to do what you need to make it easy for those loved ones left behind.

9 comments:

  1. After my dad died my mum went ahead and did lots of the same things your mum did, prepaying her funeral plan, tying up legal stuff and decluttering the house. I think it made her aware of the practicalities of dealing with a death.
    It's good that you are giving yourself permission to just do the minimum, it's an emotionally draining time and can take a lot of your energy. Take care x

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    1. Thank you. Today its back to trying to live normal days and eat normally.

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  2. I suppose it must take some negotiating with a parent while they are "of sound mind" to get their paperwork in order. A co-worker of mine is dealing with her dad's real estate at probate court and is very irritated with herself for not making arrangements with her dad to transfer the property while he was still living.

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    1. I am so glad my parents made it easy as possible for us. The initiated all of these arrangements themselves (will, revocable trust, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, living will) and shared it all as well as their finances. I am trying to do the same to help my children when the time comes and encourage everyone to face up to the inevitable.

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  3. My parents died in the 70's with nothing , but my husbands mother died and left nothing to her sons, but just a regular will that left it to her husband( my husbands step father). She,(his mom) came from a very wealthy family ), but never thought about her children or for that matter her grandchildren . ( my 2 children )
    So, even though my husband and I don't have much, we set up a living trust and it's all set for them when we pass on. Why was it like with that generation that NEVER discussed money or anything. I'm not sure, but since they left nothing to my husband or our children maybe it was just a lack of love or ??
    I'm always impressed with people like your mom who thought to take care of these things before their death and with the best interests of their children. I think you were blessed with a mom like that!

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    1. Sorry your husband's mother didn't do things differently but she may not have even realized the consequences of what she did. We were truly blessed that our parents were open and honest not only about their finances but also about their health and feelings. Awe, now I might cry in my breakfast.

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  4. It's a trust that an attorney set up, I think it's a revocable trust. Anyway, it's the trust that allows it our property to pass to our children without legal stuff.

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    1. A revocable marital trust is what my parents had set up and it does enable transfer of assets without probate. There are still things you have to do before you can access your inheritance but it is much simpler and takes less time.

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    2. I should add that having your children as co-trustees does in fact require trusting them. Glad our parents did trust us with that and health decisions.

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