To the children:
- You aren't taking enough pictures of you with your parents and your kids with their grandparents. I bet you have an album of food pics but very few with your mom. At least, I made this mistake. She was sick that last year she lived with us so we didn't take a lot of pictures with her. She was at events and immersed in our daily life but I only took a few shots. Thought we would go get pictures when she looked and felt better. Only we didn't know it was her last year and that Abigale's birthday would be the last event she's be at.. Don't miss it in your family. You never know when the last time together is the really the last time.
|Last picture [mom on left] taken at Abigale's birthday with her helping them make snow globes. I didn't even get a "Bday girl & Grandma" pic. Don't miss it like I did.|
- Please take videos. I took a small amount with my grandma & kids but I thought there was more time and didn't with my mom & kids. Abigale out of nowhere the other day said "I can't remember Grandma's voice. What did it sound like?" Talk about stabbing your heart and trying to drive and not sob. Shoot, I missed that opportunity. Please take a video of them together, maybe reading a book, normal life, something. Now. While you're at it, maybe take some video footage of you with them or speaking to them. Seriously, you never know..
- The holidays aren't just about you. There I said it. I didn't want her buying them so many gifts, and sure, it would have been nice if she had got that, but instead of making it awkward, maybe I should have rolled with instead of trying to control the holiday so much. Add some extra grace and deal with it instead of getting your way. You'll have regrets on how you handled it later, if you don't.. ask me.
- Don't rely on your parents so much. That sounds opposite to what I have been saying about bringing them in closer. But I have had to completely relearn how to parent my kids. That sounds ridiculous but in the almost 7 years Jesse has been here, my mom [or John] pretty much have always went places with me. I didn't go to Target, a grocery store or an amusement park alone with all 3 of my kids. Mom was either right along side me or kept one or 2 of them at home when she wasn't up to walking. I always had an extra hand and took that for granted at times. The kids had to learn how to function without an extra adult and so did I. She & I both knew how much I relied on her but her absence intensified that reality. Diversify your date night options, too. I miss those. They are very few and far between now since she was mostly the only one that ever watched them [and would always watch them at the drop of a hat].
October 3, 2013 Last pic before the surgery she would have the next week that would lead to her eventual passing.. She loved to go places with the kids & I.
- Let's talk about your wishes. It's awkward and depressing but guess what, it happens to everyone. How about having a book that says "This is what I want done when I die". Directions would have been great. In the midst of grief, the people left behind have to make a hundred decisions in a few days. How about you tell me now your favorite song, Bible verse, thoughts on clothes, caskets, & burial plans. If you could have a plan for the latter in advance, it would help everyone. Let's face it. Everyone will die. Be a part of your last celebration.
- Have a will. It doesn't matter what you think will happen, it's extra trouble and money, even if there is no one to contest it. Lawyers, probate courts, personal representative paperwork, estates, ugh.. the legalities I wasn't ready to know the details about, I am now knee deep inside because my mom "meant" to get a will completed. And please make sure when you create it, the will is clear, fair and completed in the right state. Update it as often as needed, when things [or people] change. Previously, I've seen money/inheritances rip a family apart first hand. You think it won't happen in your family but money can bring out some wicked stuff in people you would never imagine.
- I know you love your stuff, your collections, your supplies. But you can't take it with you..and guess what, someone else has to clean it up when you are gone. I really wish my mom would have marked or verbalized what her real favorites were, what had an actual value if not sentimental, the story about this plate or handkerchief or nativity, what was really important to her. What she wanted to make sure was passed on and not just donated or sold. As I went through her wall of boxes of fabric [yes, wall!], I kept thinking how she laughed at the phrase "She who dies with the most fabric, wins". Nope, no winning, someone else has to figure out what to do with that collection. In my case, I donated 30 garbage bags of fabric to the "Stitches of Love" ministry at our church that make items for the local nursing homes & hospital. Noble cause, but it was still hard to give away her immense treasures. I've spent 7 weeks, 3 days a week, all day, trying to go through 40 years of memories. I'm about a quarter done. :( Maybe scale that collection down because others might not be so gentle with it like I have been this summer. Pretty much everyone has told me to get a dumpster or an estate auctioneer and "let it go". Though I choose not to go those options, that will possibly happen to your stuff.
"..a time to keep and a time to throw away." Ecclesiastes 3:6b
I know more things will come to me as we continue the journey of life & loss. For those that are a part of this awful "club", what are some things you have had to learn after losing a parent?