Benjamin Franklin once said "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." And it was a quote that came to mind when I started writing this article.
Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things to deal with, especially if they were the last parent and meant the world to you. I can talk about this experience first-hand, after losing my mum at 95 just recently.
While dealing with all the emotional issues around losing a parent, there are so many other elements that you need to be aware of, especially if they haven’t been taken into consideration before the actual event.
So I thought I would share the process that I went through, so it might help you to navigate a better outcome than if you were dealing with all of the unexpected curve balls being thrown at you, in many cases at the same time.
It was a normal lazy lockdown Saturday morning when I got the call from the doctor that Mum had suffered a severe stroke and was in hospital with only days to live. The doctor said she had suffered a “catastrophic event” and wanted to know if we had a “do not resuscitate” order in place. Wow, back the truck up - I thought. From one simple call my life changed from having a Mum, to being asked “do you want us to keep her alive”, as it was going to be unlikely she would survive the next few days. My life stopped for a moment and all the other worries I had dissipated into thin air.
Thankfully, a lot of the difficult questions my sister and I needed to address for Mum in the following hours and days, had already been discussed, so we knew what to do.
I’ve listed them here to help other people be prepared.
Having these conversations and getting the paperwork in place is so important to help with the work the family needs to do when you pass.
Covid-19, of course, complicated the process of getting to see Mum, who lived a plane ride away from me. If you’re in the same position and need to book a last-minute flight, the first thing you need to know is that Air NZ offers a compassionate ticket for family emergencies; the maximum flight cost is $169.00.
I was able to make it home to see Mum and spend some time with her until she passed away four days later. It was an incredibly emotional time, but also a wonderful time of reflection. Long days and evenings. While she probably didn’t know I was there, it made me feel good that I was.
I spent some of that time to start writing Mum’s eulogy. A little hint here, don’t feel the need to write a long dissertation. Mum didn’t want to have a fuss, but my sister and I wanted to celebrate her life from our perspectives and I think we gave her a good send off, without too much fluff and a little humour along the way.
I also used some of that time to organise photos for Mum’s service (and asked extended family members for photos they would like added), which leads me to the steps that you need to be aware of when your next-of-kin dies.
I was able to share the responsibility of the decision-making with my sister and, again, very lucky that we talked and agreed on every point and approach that we took. I know it won’t as easy for many others who have more siblings, mixed families, and general complexities that are the reality for most people. The Waltons (for those who remember the show) is not how families are in real life but hopefully the above points and insights can help navigate one of the most challenging periods that we all have to confront at some time in our lives.
Disclaimer: David Boyle is Head of Sales and Marketing at Mint Asset Management Limited. The above article is intended to provide information and does not purport to give investment advice.
Mint Asset Management is the issuer of the Mint Asset Management Funds. Download a copy of the product disclosure statement here.
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