Bittersweet Times with Family!
Cindy & I attended another family funeral recently. The grieving process is one that nobody enjoys. However, life lessons abound for those willing to learn.
It’s always great to see family and friends that you haven’t seen in a long time but it’s sad we often wait until the funeral of a loved one to come together. Have you ever noticed that everyone is too busy to come to a family reunion, when everyone is alive and happy – but makes time to come to a funeral when everyone is sad. But of course, I’m preaching to myself also – guilty as charged!
At funerals, we hear people reflect on their good memories that they shared with the recently departed during times gone by. Conversely at family funerals we frequently hear privately about turmoil that family went through usually as a result of lack of proper estate planning documents or stories of how missing health care documents caused issues at the hospital or other medical facilities. Thankfully, none of the bad stuff happened at this gathering. This relative had lived a good life and was a well respected community leader. There were many friends and family, along with several community members in attendance all with good stories to share. It is a wonderful place to learn more great things about loved ones!
End of Life Lessons
Most emotional experiences in life teach us something. What lessons can we learn from a funeral?
Inspiration from Death
One of our business mentors goes as far as writing his obituary in advance and reading it everyday. As grotesque as this sounds, he says this helps with his daily planning. By having his end goal clearly in mind, as detailed in his obituary, this practice helps him clarify the actions that he should take on a daily basis.
Learn to Plan
For those who don’t want to go quite this far in their planning actions, it still helps to have your planning documents in place. It’s always good to make a couple of decisions such as who you would want to receive your assets at your death and who you would want to administer your estate. Of course, “just deciding” or even verbally telling them helps, but it doesn’t make it so – you’ve got to make your wishes happen by putting them in the form of legal documents – yet another reason to set that appointment with your estate planning or elder law attorney today!
MOM Centered Family Meeting
Finally, there is no substitute for having a conversation with your family prior to your death. Don’t count on having the death bed conversation with your family where you tell them what you want them to know at the last minute. Sometimes, you never get this chance. If you have capacity, schedule your own Mom Centered Family Meeting where, together with the items mentioned above, you may want to discuss:
- What type of care you would want in the event of your incapacity before death
- Who you would want to provide that care
- How that care should be paid
- When you would want the care to start (early stages of need or wait until the last minute)?
- Where would you want the care to be provided?
- Any other family matters that should be “worked out” while everyone is alive and competent to do so should also be discussed.
The purpose of this conversation is not to burn bridges or to “tell them what you think”. Instead it is to find ways to tie up some of life’s loose ends, heal any of life’s wounds, share life lessons and craft a great going forward plan for the whole family.
Best wishes to you as you work with your family to have a great Mom Centered Family Meeting.