Preparing for the Passing of a Loved One

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Published by Stephanie Wilson

As many of us in middle age face, I recently experienced the death of my mother.

As I entered the different stages of grief, I suddenly faced battles of a more pragmatic kind. These came in the form of the various details about funeral arrangements, medical decisions, and, in my case; who of the four living children would get certain belongings of my mother.

What follows is what I learned along the way about the details and people that matter when you’re coming to grips with the death of loved one.

Locating Pertinent Documents

Make sure you have a copy of wills, trusts, pre-arranged funeral decisions, and life insurance policies or have ready access to them. Your relative might also have Advanced Medical Directives or a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care which state who will oversee making end-of-life decisions as well as what your relative wants to happen when faced with a terminal illness.

Talking to your relative ahead of time about this can be an uncomfortable conversation. The peace of mind this brings you and your extended family will be worth it.

Knowing their wishes will help you be assured of your decisions and that they serve the deceased as well.

Work Together

Your family is your biggest strength and biggest challenge while going through the death of a close relative. Everyone expresses their grief in different ways. It’s a cliché, however, it’s very accurate.

During emotional decisions, it’s imperative that you work together to decide on arrangements. Make sure that everyone has a voice in the decision making. You are a team!

I hadn’t seen some of my siblings and close relatives in a while due to us all living in different states. We had to keep in mind that we were all grieving and needed to be kind to one another. This was a perfect time to cherish and solidify those relationships.

Distributing your Loved Ones’ Belongings

Even though my mother hadn’t specified exactly who would get what of her belongings; my siblings, my children, and other close relatives worked closely to distribute as equitably as possible.

It warmed my heart that, with a few exceptions, this was done surprisingly peacefully.

Due to my mother’s living arrangements, we only had one day to clear out all her belongings, distribute, and store the remaining. (See the Work Together section above). Some hard decisions were made that, for practical purposes, some items were to be donated or sold through a garage sale.

Remembering these were just earthly items, and the mother, grandmother, or sister we lost would always be with us spiritually eased the burden.

Let Yourself Grieve

Even though this didn’t seem like an important thing while we were going through all the turbulence, I recognized this truth.

In the fast-paced world of social media connections, it occurred to me that counting your blessings and cherishing your family is paramount.

When you attend a funeral, it’s typical to say, “I wish I had seen you under better circumstances.” Don’t discount the time you spend together even though it could have been “under better circumstances.” The circumstance gives us a chance to reconnect and hold each other close – even if it’s just for a little while.

Planning Ahead

Being prepared ahead of time will help you in the long run. Don’t wait until you’re faced with a loss to get your ducks in a row.

The comfort you feel in making all your arrangements and getting organized will outweigh the momentary disquiet of thinking about a future passing of a close relative.

Finally, I chose to see the blessings that appeared as our family supported each other. After all, this is ultimately the important legacy we leave behind.

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