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
*calendar
*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
*pets
*spousal support
*toys/hobbies

2- Financial and Budget -
*addresses and passwords (on-line accounts, blogs, e-mail, other on-line sites)
*bank accounts (checking, savings, safety deposit box)
*budget
*business
*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 -
*allergies
*blood type
*doctors
*LIFE-FILE
*living will
*medical directives
*medications

5- Property -
*bequests
*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
*cremation
*funeral service location (funeral parlor, church, home)
*funeral program (music, photos - bulletin board or DVD, readings, speakers)
*headstone
*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 ~

14 comments:

Karen and Gerard said...

I'm considering following your advice to make copies of everything in our wallets, but then where do I put them. If someone breaks into our house, that is a whole lot of valuable information gathered there that I wouldn't want them to find.

Michelle said...

I thought the same thing as Karen, but I know there are ways of securing it. And I can see how having those copies could reduce a TON of stress in the event of a purse/wallet theft/loss, accident, death, etc!

Sandra Bennett said...

Karen and Michelle, thus far, the best way I've found is to store important papers, etc. in a gun safe. I have a gun safe as well as an antique bank safe in two separate locations. I've yet to copy everything on a thumb drive, but that's on "the list" -smile-.

Lee said...

I appreciate your blogs! Great reminders to get things squared away ahead of time. My husband husband will be 59 this year and I 60 and we STILL have nothing in this regard done...and we have a minor child! Maybe I should insist on him getting the ball rolling by finding a good lawyer/attorney and setting an appointment for when I return from vacation...and pray I survive my travels through July while he's home.

M.K. said...

Hey, Sandra -- looks very good! Your lists and items are so practical. Good work!

Jill Cooper said...

Good information as always Sandra. Good luck on the conference and talking with the publishers - I'll be praying that it happens for you. Hugs!

Sandra Bennett said...

Lee, thank you SO much! May I suggest a holographic (handwritten) will? I'm not sure if it's legal in your state but, if it is, it's better than nothing until you can get to a lawyer.

MK, thank you for encouraging me; your comments are appreciated.

Jill, it's coming together slowly. Thank you for your kindness, comments and prayers.

Tina T-P said...

Very good and practical advice - even if one person takes it, your job will have been worthwhile. I've done some of it, but not all - so easy to procrastinate.

Good luck with your book. If you don't find a publisher, consider self publishing - it's getting much easier these days.

Best Wishes - Tina - (friend of Michelle - & I will blog about it some time in the next month or so for sure)

GretchenJoanna said...

Thank you, thank you! I so appreciate all the work represented here, and the love it shows. It's certainly the grace of God that makes love flow from a grieving heart. I appreciate you, Dear Sandra.

I have been meaning to start my widow's notebook and this detailed list will make it more likely that I'll get to it.

Sandra Bennett said...

Hi Tina, thank you for visiting and for your kind comments. It is easy to put things off, I do it as much as possible and then suffer severe regret . Funny you should mention self-publish, someone else contacted me about that earlier this week.

Now, I'm off to visit you.

Gretchen, thank you, thank you! Your third sentence struck a chord in my heart...thank you. Putting together such a book is good for all of us...men and women, married and single.

LindaSue said...

I am the object lesson of what NOT to do - thought we had everything handled and I was wrong so now having to deal with the mess left behind A holographic will is valid in Texas - most importantly one must be witnessed!! not necessary to notarize but have to have two witnesses to signature.
My "nest egg" for old age is broken but the Lord will provide - and Sandra - your book and blogs and talks will surely help some other women avoid this situation. Bless you!

Sandra Bennett said...

LindaSue, I am so sorry! The death of a spouse is hard enough without having all the rest of "it" to deal with as well. My hope and prayer is that my hard gained knowledge is useful to others.

Ann said...

God bless you. I'm very sorry to read of the passing of your husband. I'm sure he'd be proud of the way you are seeking to help others and with how you've carried on.

gracie said...

Thank you....