Sunday, June 30, 2013

Death comes to us or for us...

Are you there? Yes, it's been a while and for those of you who have gone through such devastating grief, you know it takes time. The rest of you will have to take our word for it...fortunately! It's been around 600 days since Dave died and I'm still struggling to finish all the paperwork so, please trust me when I say this..."Death comes to or for us all, it's best to be prepared!"

I'm not going to clean up the former posts, even though they are gritty and raw, because grief is a process that takes as much time as it takes. No one can tell you how to grieve or how long to grieve. I know widows who have grieved and remained single for more than fifty years while other widows married before many months had passed. It's best not to pass judgement; none of us know how we'll respond or react until it happens to us so be gentle, be kind, be gracious and, above all, be merciful. We're all fighting some sort of battle.

Remember what Shakespeare said in the Merchant of Venice

"The quality of mercy is not strain'd, 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
Please don't let the following list overwhelm you; remember, we're going to take it in steps and, step by step, when we're finished, you'll be better prepared for both life and death. In order to be a good steward of what God has entrusted to you, you need to know what you've got. 

First, make copies of everything, front and back, in your wallet - credit cards, debit cards, driver's license, insurance cards and a check (for the account number). If it's important, make a copy of front and back then place in the front of your three-ring binder. If your purse or wallet is lost, misplaced or stolen, it's far easier to refer to this sheet of paper, for necessary information, than to search for the 1.800 numbers on the i-net; also, you know exactly what is missing.

Prepare your three-ring notebook with 

*business card holders
*lined paper
*envelopes - legal and letter
*note cards already stamped and return label affixed
*plastic sleeves (open and closed) 
*plastic folders with inside sleeves
*two section dividers - one with seven sections, another with twelve sections (the twelve sections will be used for a simple budget...if you don't already have a budget. if you already have a budget, skip this step.)
*zippered binder with calculator, paper and binder clips, pen, pencil and eraser, post it notes, ruler, forever stamps

In an effort for clarity, information is listed in alphabetical order. The seven focus areas are

1- Family -
*business associates (ac/heating repair, auto shop, contractor, plumber, etc.)
*children (including child support)
*other dependents
*spousal support

2- Financial and Budget -
*addresses and passwords (on-line accounts, blogs, e-mail, other on-line sites)
*bank accounts (checking, savings, safety deposit box)
*credit cards
*debit cards, debt, hardship circumstances, insurance (health, home, life, long term disability, key man, umbrella, vehicles), loans, mortgage or rent, portfolio (profit-sharing, retirement or pension, investment clubs, bonds, IRA's, 401K's, stocks, treasury bills, options, commodities), utilities

3- Legal -
*last will and testament (traditional and spiritual)
*power of attorney
*revocable living trust

4- Medical -
*blood type
*living will
*medical directives

5- Property -
*personal (clothing, computer, jewelry, tools, guns, etc.)
*real estate (Capital Gains, commercial, personal, time share, vacation property, 1031 Exchange)
*vehicle titles (ATV, car, delivery vehicle, motorcycles, RV, tractors, truck, van, work, UTV, etc.)

6- Final Arrangements and Going Home -
*body preparation (clothing choice, embalm or not, make-up)
*casket (open or closed, if closed, what drape will be used?, material)
*cemetery plot
*funeral service location (funeral parlor, church, home)
*funeral program (music, photos - bulletin board or DVD, readings, speakers)
*memorial service (music, photos - bulletin board or DVD, readings, speakers)
*military funeral
*obituary (cost, photo)
*wake (music, photos - bulletin board or DVD, readings, speakers)

Five short days before Dave died, he called me to his side. "Let's talk," he said, "I want to know how to get right with God." I explained, as best I could, how much God loved him, how God sent Christ to bridge the gap of sin between him and God. All he had to do was choose to believe Christ loved him, died for him and he'll spend eternity in heaven with God, Christ and that great cloud of witnesses. I've also chosen to believe and I'll be in heaven as well; will you?

Truthfully, those first few months were so hard and there were weeks and weeks I wasn't sure I wanted to live. Even though I'm a Christian, this grief journey has been soul numbing cold, but knowing Dave made his peace with God and is in heaven, has made the grief bearable.

7- Worksheets - 
You should have a fireproof lock box or safe; I have a gun safe and an antique bank safe where important papers are stored. Another safety tip...if possible, make copies of everything on a thumb drive and store off site with a family member or friend...someone you trust. Thumb drives may be purchased that are password protected or you can store in another fireproof lock box.

For those who feel this is a macabre subject, please let me say these are important decisions that need to be made and if you don't make them for yourself and your family, someone else will. Unfortunately, some decisions may be made by a stranger with no intimate knowledge of you, your circumstances or your wishes. In the case of single parents, do you really want a state employee to make a decision regarding the home placement of your child? I shouldn't think so!

Please give your suggestions, advice, comments, etc. I like to think I'm handling this grief journey rather well but all it takes is one emotional twist to put me back on the floor in fetal position, sobbing my heart out while the dogs lap my tears. It's a frosty world and takes all of us to make it warmer and cozier. You are appreciated, more than I can describe, and also appreciated is the gift of your time in both reading and commenting. God bless you!

Next month, I'm attending She Speaks Conference in Charlotte, NC and, while there, I have two appointments to speak with publishers about putting this information into a book. Please pray, if God wills it, those publishers will be receptive to my book. 

Please, would you do something else for me? Would you please blog about this post and this information? Also, would you please join this site as a follower and sign up to receive e-mail updates? Later this week, I'm going to start a Face Book page and would appreciate you "friending" that page (is that the correct terminology?).

"Death comes to us or for us, 
it's best to be prepared!"

Blessings ~ making sense of the information ~ She Speaks Conference ~ readers and those who comment ~

Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Update

~ view from my front yard ~
It's been eleven months since this blog was updated and so much has happened. Life goes on, deep breathing still helps and I'm still working on the book. I still agree with Groucho, see post below, and hate being a member of this 'hood...iow, widowhood. The grief has become more manageable and even has begun to move into mourning. I'm not so overwhelmed, I'm not being poured out onto the kitchen floor, kittens playing with my hair and dogs licking my face, while the sobbing consumes me. I am able to live.
"Death comes to us or for us; it's best to be prepared" is the subtitle of my book and for the longest while, was put on a back shelf. The thought kept coming to me, "who wants to read about such a depressing topic?" Lately, I've had my skates on and the words have been flying through my fingers and onto the keyboard. Just this morning, Alistair Begg's words encouraged me..."continuance is the test of reality", "be diligent", "through endurance we have hope" and "practice patience". God gave me this, "see it through"; He might as well have said, "SANDRA! See it through!" followed by a Gibbs head smack. smile
Thank you God and thank you Pastor Begg. 
Closer to home, I was speaking with my brother and he said, "I don't have a will." WHAT?! I wanted to reach through the phone and Gibbs smack him. So, today, I'm writing his will (legal in Virginia, no lawyer required) and he and his wife can make whatever changes they want. They've only been married a few months but they...everyone!... needs a will! In Virginia if you die without a will, called intestate, the Commonwealth of Virginia takes the first twenty or twenty-five percent off the top before they start finding relatives. YIKES! That's terrible, I think. Even if you don't want your estate to go to family, surely there's a non-profit or university where you could give...? I'm also helping with my brother and Daddy's Living Trust; that's for privacy, among other reasons; more to be written about that later.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia a holographic will is legal; that's simply a hand written will that's witnessed by two people when you sign and date it. A holographic will is legal in more than half the states in the USA and should hold you until you're able to do better, this site tells you which states and has more information.
Some of you know I have another blog that's updated more frequently and where I've written about Dave, his death, the farm, my life, etc. Please visit me there.
Thank you for your comments, stories, suggestions, etc. I've asked you if you'd allow your story to be included in the book, some of you have said, "yes" and I thank you. If we share life, it's to be certain we'll also, one day, share death. Let's hold hands and be gentle with each other. Okay?

Blessings ~ grief, it allows us to move back toward living ~ mourning, it allows us to live again ~ stories, they help all of us ~ words of encouragement ~ a life well lived ~