There are many things in life we may not want to talk about or share because we know we have it under control and there is really no need to bother or worry someone else about. Or possibly we feel things are to private or personal.

My mom passed away on July 4th partially because she didn’t want to let anyone know how ill she really was. She left us without a will and with a pile of paperwork that only she could decipher. Three days later I brought home four large boxes of notes, figures and paperwork I had to begin to sort through immediately because it was quickly apparent there were major financial difficulties she was keeping a loose lid on. Long ago I had promised my mom that in the event of her death I would do my best to take care of, and keep my 92 year old Stepfather in the house if at all possible. Little did I know what this would entail. Or how quickly I would have to act and under what circumstances.

Grieving is difficult enough without having to stave off creditors, process servers, foreclosure or simply make sure the phone bill is paid. I know my mom didn’t expect to die before her husband, and I also know she didn’t like to think about or talk about her eventual passing. And I didn’t want to hear about it. She also kept such crazy complicated books that even if she wanted to share her ‘system’ with me I doubt I would have been willing to deal with learning it at all.

At the opposite end of the spectrum- My husband visits his folks often and at least once a month his father goes over their finances with him. It is my understanding that this is done not just so that someone can know what is up after the eventual death, but in case there comes a time when his father is unable or unwilling to cope with their finances.

I am a firm believer in living and enjoying life to the fullest. Planning ahead to make sure financial issues can be handled by more than one person in the family is not something I ever thought much about or much cared for. It seemed mundane and kind of doom and gloom. Today my feelings on the process have changed. Today I am urging you all to have a Will even if you think you haven’t anything to pass onto others. Make sure it is clear who is responsible for what, and then make sure those people know what this may eventually mean. It really doesn’t take that much time and it is time together that you may not always have.

I will eventually get through all these boxes and hopefully put together a simplified system my stepfather can understand and work with. Right now the major issues are dealt with. For a while I will have a living room full of my mother’s handwriting (on bills, napkins, envelopes etc…) as evidence of stresses I am sure she did not wish for me to ever know of, or have to cope with alone.

Live and enjoy your lives, spend some extra time with those you love, talking briefly every now and again about things that may be tough to fathom. I really think that in doing so the benefits will be immediate and evident to all parties involved.

Shannon Callahan

No biography available for this author.

3 Responses

  1. trish says:

    bravo, well said. My condolences to you on your loss.I will make sure my children will never have to deal with this.

  2. Karen says:

    I am sorry you are going through this. You are giving very good advice to us. My hope for you is that this time with your mom’s stuff, although not what you would have chosen, will be a way to move through grieving for her and accepting she is gone. Savor her memory, the good and not so good. Let her stuff make you smile. Give little gifts to yourself to help make it through. You are strong and wise. Thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Donna says:

    I am sorry for your loss. No matter how old we are, our moms are such a big part of our lives, and their passing is difficult. My mom passed away suddenly two years ago. This summer, my siblings and I finally began going through her things. It was like taking a walk down “memory lane” and we received so many insights into the woman our mom was. It seemed as if she wanted us to go through her things “when we were ready” and we received the “gift” of appreciating the amazing woman she was as we journeyed through her belongings. God bless you as you journey through your grief.

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