Death chooses the worst times! Those times when you only have two pork chops and half a bag of rice left to feed your family but must now cater for more hungry mouths. The time when you least expect it. It takes us by surprise, shuts down the ability to function and leaves us reeling. But that’s just how it goes. We are never fully ready to handle it or accept the loss.
This past week, I had to face the sad reality of a loved one passing. I flew to my sister as soon as I could because she needed me. I realized immediately that although I went to comfort and support and assist her with the awful job of preparing for her husband’s funeral, the children needed someone to comfort them just as much. In the event of a close family member dying, we almost shut down with disbelief, grief and feelings that we cannot immediately describe. But the numb feeling is very real. It robs us of clear thought and makes it difficult to think logically and plan.
She had to deal with hundreds of phone calls, explaining the painful circumstances of the passing of her husband to everyone, because they all also loved and respected him. But it rips the scab off a very painful sore every time. They all offer their condolences but one feel as if its just not enough, it does not bring the person back, but she understood that, nothing does, and it really makes it better for them to have spoken to her and to be able to express their sadness.
Some of these phone calls can also annoy very much. As my sister also said, for every 20 phone calls received from friends and family to pay their respects to her husband and the father of her children – and adopted children – and offer their assistance with “anything I can do for you, please just shout”, only one will actually come through with supper for six, or the money for data and airtime for her cell phone to make the endless arrangements needed for the funeral.
Then there are those exceptional people who really go beyond what you ever expect, the ones who without being asked, pay for things because they want to, not because they are asked to do it. The best friends, employers, church and family who give without expecting anything in return. I cannot thank them enough for making life easier for my sister.
This week was also a week of revelations, of a family who pulled together to help with emotional support, hard work and even laughter. We, my mom, sister in law and myself, were doing our best to be supportive, but also to be respectful of the family’s feelings, we tried to be there for them without taking over and being in the way too much. Its a fine balance and it is not easy.
Death and funeral preparations also does not end with the emotional stuff, the paperwork and legal stuff can also be daunting. Stuff = the rest.
It brought back the long, tiring battle to wrap up my father-in-law’s estate and the endless red tape and paperwork that is needed to conclude someone’s life. First it is the money problem of Frail Care – dad had Parkinson’s, funeral preparations, time, phone calls that never seem to end but always ended in tears, family responsibilities and care, church service and cremation. Then came the bank, final will and testament, business bank account wrap-up, vehicles to be put into mom-in-law’s name, emails to sort out insurance, and the list goes on and on. And we were assured that his affairs were simple compared to most people’s to conclude, but for us, it was a long, tedious wait and difficult job to get it all done.
A few things I have learned from death and arranging two funerals and tying up loose ends, other than the fact that a few good people still exists today who will literally drop everything and support each other, include the importance of drawing up a will, just do it and leave it with someone you trust, bank financial manager/consultant, lawyer, etc. Make sure your next of kin knows where it is. Appoint a good executor for your estate.
If you own a vehicle(s) and it is registered in your name, sign the form to transfer the vehicle into someone else’ name and file it with your vehicle’s papers. I cannot tell you how much this will assist with wrapping up vehicle owner transfer and registration! Make sure you have the original papers for your vehicles!
Leave instructions with your spouse, next of kin, etc to know if you would prefer a cremation or burial. Make your wishes known to everyone who will have part in organizing your funeral or memorial service. (Put it in your will.)
Make sure your firearms are secure, registered and licensed and contact your local police department to make the proper arrangements for them. You may nominate an heir for your firearms but must make sure they have a competency certificate. And they need to follow the proper legal procedure to then own this firearm(s). Find out about this.
Its only a few things that will make life easier for those left behind. There is so much more to do and think about, it would just be good if we are all more prepared for that moment we don’t even want to think about.
Although I have been whining about DEATH, I have to say, this past week, I have rediscovered the values of family. My family is a close knit group, we have each others backs. When we need each other, we drop everything and we go and support the ones we love and hold dear. I SALUTE my girls!, I know that when the day comes that I need my sisters and mom, I can count on them to pick me up. I will always be there for them. I think that my relationship with my own little family in East London is going to receive a big overhaul. My husband is precious to me, I will hold him extra close and dear from today.