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.