I sit here writing this piece as I experience grief in its newest form. Last month we got the call that my 90 year old grandmother was unresponsive. We rallied around her bedside, but a few days later she took her last breath surrounded by family and in prayer. It's only been a few weeks and while I am still mourning and still struggling, I am thankful for so many things that our family did to make this process easier. Just as having my cousin, a nurse, there to explain things helped us, having a plan before we needed to make hard decisions was essential. I'm hoping that sharing some of what we did well help you when the time comes for you to say goodbye to a cherished loved one.
1. We talked to her before dementia set in and set up a will and power of attorney. The Power of Attorney meant that when it was time to find skilled nursing care, we didn't need an expensive court proceeding to have her admitted or get her benefits flowing. When she passed away, there was no question as to who was to inherit what.
2. We trusted the family members to act in their strengths. My Aunt is the level headed oldest child. She was the one to make day to day medical decisions and keep the family informed. My Mom has an accounting degree so she handled the finances and bill paying.
3. We set up a burial fund early. Having the burial fund made income unavailable for the Nursing Home to take. It also meant that we could plan the funeral knowing exactly how much was available before we ever signed a contract.
4. We talked during the final illness. Since we knew the end was coming, we were able to talk a little about what type of service we wanted and who we wanted to speak and sing. When the end came, no one had to make an immediate decision in the newness and numbness of grief.
There is no plan that can take this pain away. There is no preparation for the loss of a huge piece of your heart. I miss her wisdom, her sass, and just the sound of her voice. I miss that even as she loss so much of her memory, she always remembered that her granddaughter was a lawyer. I am so devastated that we have to deal with this, but I am so thankful that we are not like many of the families that make their way to my office. They are shell shocked, unprepared, confused. Learn from us. Planning doesn't take away the pain, but boy does it help.
By Jacquie L. Jones
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