LOSS IS ON THE HORIZON
"The doctor told us that it was a miracle Mom's leukemia went into remission. It made us feel that everything was going to be fine. A few months after this visit, I received the call from Mom that she wasn't feeling well. Within ten days of that call, she passed away. My sister and I were not prepared for all that followed - arrangements, grief, and Dad living alone."
My sister and I were not prepared for this stage of our parents' lives. Our family never talked about death. When Mom passed away, not only were we devastated with grief but we had to figure out what do we do next. We did not know where to turn for the right help. When loss is on the horizon, it feels like there is not ever enough time. Things will happen very fast and you need to be prepared. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is overwhelming; which is why having a plan and being aware of what lies ahead of you will help make this life event a little easier.
The goal of Aging Parents Management is to offer information and resources to help you become better prepared for the future stages of your aging parents lives. A unique tool to help you to get you through the process of making future end-of-life plans or imminent arrangement is a website eFuneral.com - a comprehensive, transparent and completely FREE online resource for funeral planning and purchasing. They also pre-arrangements funding options. We often recommend online tools, such as this, which may help in minimizing the stress involved in these difficult situations. It offers an alternative venue for you and your parents to address and deal with this emotional planning process from the comfort of home.
TALK ABOUT IT
Talking about End-of-Life decisions is difficult for all of us. However, death is a part of the circle of life and it is something we all think about as we get older. Your parents may have already made these decisions or at least have thought about it. But unless you ask them about it, you will never know. So how do you bring up end-of-life plans in a conversations? Over a cup of coffee ask them, "Have you ever talked about what happens if either one of you pass away?" Be mindful of their reaction. Listen to what they tell you and go from there. Here are some other items that should be part of this conversation:
DOCUMENTS - Do they have a Will, Power Of Attorney, and Healthcare Directive in place? Where do they have these documents stored? Do you know where to find them when you need them? When was the last time they had these documents updated?
Typically, people have these documents created in their forties or fifties. However, overtime relationships may change which is why it is a good idea to review them every 7-10 years. If they have documents already in place, this would be an opportune time to visit with an Estate Planning Attorney to review these KEY DOCUMENTS and to make any other updates.
BURIAL TYPES - There are two typical burial types - traditional or non-traditional (cremation). Your parents may have a definite preference. Be respectful of their wishes, religious or cultural observances and traditions. Traditional funerals tend to be very expensive averaging in the thousands of dollars. Some individuals are open to cremation which tends to cost much less than traditional ones.
BURIAL PLOTS - Finding the right resting place for a loved one is stressful. Here are some points to assist in this decision making process.
Family plot - Consider a location where other family members have been placed to rest.
Location - People often choose cemeteries close to home, but to whose home? Where the parents lived? Where you live? Consider a cemetery where other family members are put to rest or location where you know that someone will have the opportunity to visit them.
Religion - Religion plays a major part in selection process. Today's families are made up of different religions and cultures. Inquire with the cemetery if there are any religious requirements or restrictions.
Price -Plots and headstones are expensive. Some cemeteries offer an opportunity to pre-purchase a plot and then pay for it over time.
FUNDING OPTIONS - Visit eFuneral.com to find a Funeral Service provider in your area for more information.
End-of-life planning is extremely stressful for both you and your parent. When it becomes overwhelming or If you are not comfortable doing this on your own, seek the assistance from an Eldercare Attorney.
WAYS OF DEALING WITH THE GRIEF - Don't do it alone. Seek help!
Grief is a process. Time will heal all wounds but it does not eliminate the scars. We cannot stress enough the importance of seeking bereavement support. There are so many different types of support available from local outreach programs to fitness for grief. One of these may be the right fit for you:
Fitness for Grief; such as Yoga
Hospitals or Community Outreach Programs
Primary Care Giver
STAY CONNECTED! You are not alone.
My sister and I had no idea to the extent to which grief would have on our lives. The initial days after Mom died, we were on auto pilot and distracted with making all of the funeral arrangements. During this time, friends and family visited and they checked in on us but overtime life returned back to normal for everyone but us. That's when our set in.
Unaddressed grief takes a toll on one's emotionally well-being and on personal relationships with those around you. Family issues become magnified. Relationships become strained. You continually miss the person who is now gone and find unhealthy ways to fill that void. I remember looking online for bereavement support, but did not find the right help for me. Therefore, my sister and I never sought any help. Our grief lasted a long-time because we felt that we just had to bare it until it went away fortunately it does not have to be this way.
DEALING WITH THEIR STUFF
We do not realize how much stuff is collected over time until you have to go through it after a loved one has passed away. This is an extremely emotional process for those of us tasked with this responsibility. You will look in every box, at every photo, and at every one of their keepsakes which will lead to an onset of memories and emotions. It is not easy to decide which items are given away, get donated or get thrown away. There is a better outcome of this task when it is a planned event in advance with your parents. Make helping them do some "Spring Cleaning" part of this planning process.
The goal of Aging Parents Management is to help you become better prepared for these events. As you and your parents visit the Estate Planning process, take the time to assess their household inventory, too. Have questionable collectibles appraised. This will also be helpful in valuating their Estate. As you go through this process systematically, it will avoid any future rash decisions - like throwing or giving away a valuable picture by accident.
Recently, a new practice called "Death Cleaning" has evolved. It is the practice of one giving away their belongings in an organized manner over time. The process usually starting in our 50s. “Death cleaning” is the literal translation of the Swedish word "dostadning", which means a decluttering process that begins as people age. This concept has been introduced in a popular new book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson. By following this school of thought, it removes much of the emotional hardship on the ones who have to do all of this once our parents are gone.
Visit our Marketplace to find businesses and professional services who are ready to help you on this Journey with your aging parents. Join our Online Community so you won't have to go through this process alone and if you need more help.