Archive for August 5th, 2009|Daily archive page

Decisions, decisions

I met today with a funeral director to begin the process of pre-paying for at least part of Mom’s needs after she dies. Somewhere, there is a will that states her wishes. My sister and I both recall that she wanted to be cremated. I also favor cremation in general, so that is our plan. Or at least part of the plan. There is a lot to consider, and even though I know what I think would be nice and suitable, I don’t feel it’s something I should decide on my own. Laura and Jeff should be part of the conversation. But the thing is, I’m in a hurry to spend Mom’s money. Today, in fact, was the 45-day deadline to spend down to $1,500 to determine her Medicaid eligibility. I am not there yet. But soon I will place a downpayment on Mom’s funeral expenses and pay for 14 days of assisted living for the month of August, and then she won’t have much money at all.

So once a family decides on cremation, there are other things to consider. Visitation? Memorial service? Actual funeral, with clergy present? Should Mom’s body be there or not? And will we keep her ashes in separate containers, one for each of us, so we can have a part of her with us forever? I had thought we might go that route. But I think Laura would like a burial, a permanent place to visit. That would be nice for my aunt, too. And the funeral director noted that sometimes, people take ashes to their homes, and then THEY die, and there are these loved one’s ashes left in the corner. What does one do with those? I hadn’t thought of that. I imagine funeral directors have thought of everything. And seen a lot of things.

I don’t really feel inclined to have a service for Mom. She was not a member of a local church, so I don’t think a clergy person is appropriate. I certainly don’t want to lead a service that’s more of a free for all, with people speaking one after the other. I would like visitation, or calling hours, or whatever. To have pictures all around, and classical music, and to talk with Mom’s friends in a casual atmosphere. Mom was casual. She still is casual. She liked a party. Formality wasn’t her thing. However, I am just one person. Maybe others would like something serious and formal, for reflection. Virtually everyone else who knows Mom will have spent a lot less time with her at the time that she dies than I will have spent with her. So maybe I shouldn’t decide. The same goes for whether her body is there. I tend to think, why? But the funeral director noted that for many, especially family, seeing the body is an important part of saying goodbye. So I am open to that. But I tend to not like that particular practice, having a stiff, artificial version of the body I once knew to say goodbye to.

So, we’ll have to make some decisions as a family. I felt nervous before I got to the funeral home. I get nervous before I do a lot of things related to Mom. I’m not afraid I’ll cry or anything. I’m not having “performance” anxiety, you know, like I have to represent Mom in some special way. I just have butterflies. I guess it’s just plain anxiety. What I’m doing is often important. Life savings, long-term care, death. Those are serious issues. Once I’m in the thick of it, the butterflies go away.

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