Do it for me, if no one else
Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham
I know that this gets said often and in different ways, but given what I’m dealing with in the wake of my father’s passing this week, I think it bears repeating.
Get your affairs in order just in case something unexpected happens – if only for the sake of your loved ones.
Dad was only 54, and was in a lot of ways the picture of good health – other than minor issues with blood pressure and cholesterol, he was actually in the kind of shape that people half his age would be envious of.
So that he’s no longer with us anymore is a surprise to a lot of people – and even as we’re dealing with the grief of the sudden loss, we’re also being forced to work through figuring out how to bury him and otherwise close out his affairs.
The fun part to that is that he didn’t really leave us a guide as to how to go about doing those kinds of things – for example, even the basics of how to go about planning his services.
All we had to go on for the burial, for example, was that he had recently confided to his second ex-wife that he didn’t want to be cremated.
And then there was how he had informed my sister after my Aunt Sis’s passing a couple of years ago that he didn’t like it when a funeral service was led by a church pastor who used the opportunity to deliver a hellfire-and-brimstone sermon at the expense of speaking more than two words about the recently departed.
I was glad to hear that, personally, given that such is my own natural inclination, but still.
Luckily my sister knew some basic details about things like the fact that he had already purchased a burial plot and that he had a life-insurance policy that would at the least pay for the costs of the funeral – but we didn’t know specifics about either, which was particularly scary when the insurance policy didn’t turn up as expected until a few nervous hours after we’d signed our names on what is going to be a $13,000 funeral operation when all is said and done assuming that the policy was there.
Next up is figuring out what to do about his debts and assets – again, we have nothing in the way of a guide to lead us through this process, so we’re doing a lot of guessing right now as to how we need to proceed from here.
What I would say here is that I can speak with some current experience that this kind of time is not at all the best time to have to endure these kinds of stresses – you know, given that you’re also dealing with the loss of a loved one at the same time.
I’m not upset with Dad for not having thought things through to the point of having, say, a will, or at the least a set of instructions about where we could find things. I mean, like I said, he was 54, and I know I just assumed that he was going to live to be 80 or 85 or 90, and we’d deal with whatever we had to deal with in 30 or 40 years.
I guess I hope here that if I can make something good come of this, it will be in the area of making it so that you learn from our experience to go ahead and assume that you’re going to live forever, but just in case …