The chaotic week left my brother and I to work and talk together like never before.
The unexpected death put us in a whirlwind – emotionally, physically and psychologically.
There were initial decisions to be made with the funeral home plus meetings with the lawyer.
Add to the mix the fact that both of us live several hours away and are still employed full-time, and you can envision the hectic atmosphere. We made hurried decisions – each individually regarding our own jobs and families, and also jointly regarding family needs and immediate plans. And we acted on those decisions to the best of our ability, from the hospital and from the town of our loved one.
Thankfully, our mother was organized – in her own way. Finding necessary files and contact information was confusing, especially when we didn’t really know what we were to be looking for. For example, we spent time frantically texting relatives and digging through mom’s old high school and college yearbooks for information for her obituary and funeral program.
I’m a practical person and I think I’m organized for end of life paperwork. I now ask myself, what will make sense to my son when he has to come to town after receiving “the call?” How can I help him avoid the chaos and the whirlwind?
Before you receive “the call,” start a folder, notebook or file.
Add to it 2 quick things:
- Your own obituary. It took me 10 minutes to do my own, because I knew the information or knew where to look to get it. Doing so ahead of time saves my son from trying to find all the dates of marriage and graduations, and listing of relatives (alive or passed). It can always be updated.
- The free publication Decisions After a Death. It will get you thinking about what documents you’ll need to get your hands on now and who to contact.
Then work on preparing yourself and loved ones. ISU Extension and Outreach Human Sciences specialists in family finance offer a workshop series called The Finances of Caregiving. Contact your family finance specialist about this new program. It helps the caregiver and care receiver organize all the needed information into one place, and prompts discussions among family members to make decisions about end of life issues.