You can find our latest posts on this page. Click on the blog titles below or click on the calendar to review postings from prior periods. Remember to check back here often!
One of the realities of losing a spouse or a parent is the impact that event has on living arrangements. Are we living in the “right” place? Is the house too big? Is it too far away from family? Will my surviving parent be safe where they live? Should I move to be closer to mom or should mom move closer to me?
These are tough questions and they come at a time when emotions are running so very high. They also come at a time when income has likely decreased, perhaps requiring a change be made sooner rather than later. Conventional wisdom says wait at least a year before you make any big changes to your living situation, but the reality is waiting a year may not be financially possible. If you are able to slow down and let the dust settle a bit, that is no small blessing.
Really, it all boils down to three considerations: happiness, safety, and finances. The surviving spouse needs to be in a place that not only works financially, but also is safe and happy. You are going to need to use both your rational mind and your emotions if you are to make the best decision.
On the face of it, the financial consideration seems to be the trump card. After all, you have to be able to afford where you live. However, it is not always that simple. When the happiest place is affordable but not the most frugal choice, then maybe happy trumps financially smart? Decisions based on both emotion and rational thought are usually the best decisions.
That emotional happiness factor also impacts the safety issue. Perhaps the safest living arrangement isn’t going to be a happy situation? In that case, put your rational mind to work on finding a way to make the happy place safer.
You have to find the best fit answer for your family. As you are weighing those three considerations, resist the temptation to base the decision on what you think may happen or will happen down the road. Consider the wisdom of making decisions in the present, based on present circumstances. So, if dad is safe, happy and can afford to stay in his present home maybe no change is necessary … for now.
You are with someone with whom you share some history. Maybe it’s a brother, sister, or a childhood friend. You are talking about an event from the “old days” and you suddenly realize you all remember the event a little differently. Most of us have had this experience. Our relationships work in a similar fashion. The way we love, like the way we remember, is unique to each of us.
A man’s children know him as Dad. Each child knows and loves a slightly different Dad. His wife knows and loves him in yet a different way. A wife may know fears, strengths, hopes, and dreams children never saw. They all love, but in such different ways. Though not a bad thing, it can add to the stress a family experiences during a death and subsequence funeral planning.
So how do you preserve your family relationship and plan a funeral that provides comfort for each family member?
Emotions are raw when families are mourning a death. Tread lightly and be kind. Remember you may want to have Thanksgiving dinner with these people in a few months!
The story below illustrates the benefits of preplanning your funeral. Also known as an “advance funeral plan”, “preneed”, or a “preplanned funeral”, it is one of the few things in life where you can pay today’s prices for a product and service you may not need for many years down the road, thus saving you money.
We buried my dad last week. My dad’s funeral would have been just a little more $8,000 not counting the luncheon or cemetery space. However, thanks to his pre-need funeral plan that he prepared 18 years ago at the funeral home, we got it for $5,000 and some change. Saving money wasn’t necessarily what motivated him to make the plan in advance. But, let me tell you, my mom was pretty pleased to know she didn't have to write that check.
Now, I should clarify something here. My mom is more than okay financially. Paying, even the full $8,000, for the funeral would not have been a financial issue. It was an emotional thing. She knew the death of my dad was going to change her life. She just didn’t know how it would change. So, everything, every action and especially spending money, increased her anxiety. We didn’t need that. Thank you, dad, for taking care of the plan and its cost well before it was needed.
What motivated my father to pre-plan was the fact we are a blended family. It’s not the we don’t all get along, we do (most of the time). But, we don’t all have the same taste. My sister, his oldest daughter, likes the earth tones. Our mom, his wife, on the other hand, likes the jewel tones. My dad picked a black casket and even said he wanted to be buried in his navy suit. Seems like small stuff, but it probably saved us all some angst. There was no fuss, no brown suit and no hurt feelings.
If my dad would have asked us 18 years ago if he should pre-plan and pre-pay for his funeral, I feel certain all five of us would have said, “Don’t worry about that. We can take care of it when we have to.” I am so grateful that he did not ask and that he did not think just about the money portion of an advance funeral plan. Dad, thank you for being smarter than us and knowing that we would need your emotional support even in death.