Category Archives: Funerals

The importance of having a Will

When my uncle past away a number of years ago, he had a Will, but what a Will doesn’t usually take into consideration is the stuff in the house, photo albums, furniture, kitchenware’s, tools, jewellery, knickknacks, etc. After my uncles’ death, the big items, furniture, televisions, etc were actually divided up quite easily. The problems arose when one half of the family (my side), who lived out-of-town were not given ample time to pick up the items and things were given away without our final agreement.

I had sent my husband to pick up the items left to us since I was ill at the time, plus he was able to disassemble my uncle’s bed and load it into our van (I would have been useless). When my husband arrived (after working an eight-hour shift, he found a huge mess, pictures taken out of photo albums and thrown on the floor, contents of cupboards just tossed here and there. He put as much as he could in our van, thinking he still had another day, but even before he arrived home, I found out that the rest of the contents of the house were being picked up the next day by strangers. I made a phone call to the person who was responsible for giving the contents away and was reassured the contents would still be there another day.

My husband, again went back the next day after work, only to find little in the house, it had been emptied. The not very expensive but personal items I had made for my uncle and grandmother (she had past away less than a year earlier) were gone. He had made a two-hour trip for nothing and I was in tears.

In a very short number of years, I have lost my great-aunt, two grandmothers, uncle, both my parents, and a very young sister-in-law. My husband has also lost in the same time period, his mother, and just recently his brother. So suffice to say, we have this “Will” thing pretty much down pat. Not long after we had our first child we wrote our first Will, and since then have updated it after each child, and then every three or four years. We have had lengthy discussions with our children about the division of property. For example, our life insurance will go towards paying for our cremation, a wake (neither of us are having a funeral, just a party), bills and if there is any money leftover it will be divided amongst the three of them. Likewise, if one of our kids wants our house, then the other two will have their portion purchased. As for the contents, all will be divided equally and fairly.

Our kids have seen the problems which have arisen when money/things are not shared equally, so I can confidently say, they will share because they want to avoid tears, as each of them as said, enough tears are shed when a person dies, causing more because of financial gain/material items is just not worth more tears.

Do you have a will? Have you talked to your kids about the division of money/items?

Children, funerals, life

Over the years my children have been to far to many funerals. There have been funerals for their great-grandmas, great-aunt, great-uncle, grandma and grandpa, the little girl from school and most recently their aunt. When they were young, they read passages for their great-aunt, great-grandmother and great-uncle.

When we found out that my father only had months to live, we moved him into our home, where he spent his last six months of life. When he realized it was the end, he had me take him to the hospital. The next day, I brought my children down to see him so he could say goodbye. Each child bent over so he could whisper words into each of their ears. It was the hardest thing I ever had to watch. Afterwards in the courtyard, all three children were crying but middle child took it the worst. She had spent countless hours with him, learning to tend his vegetable garden or just following him around and now she felt guilty. She wanted him to pass to heaven, she had seen the pain he had lived with the last six months of his life. Trying my best to find the right words to say to her was difficult but my father was ready to let go and that gave her peace. When it was time for his funeral, middle child and the teenage boy decided to stay home, it would be the first funeral in years that they didn’t read a passage from the bible. I knew my father would be fine with this, he was of Irish/English decent and believed that you had a party to celebrate life after someone died.

When my brother’s wife got sick with cancer, my children visited her regularly during her chemotherapy treatments. They made her smile and laugh. When she passed, they did go to the funeral home, but it was beyond difficult, she was 30 years old. For the funeral, they decided they just couldn’t attend, my husband and I were okay with this decision and so was my brother.

With all of the funerals over the years, we have talked extensively with our children about death. Therefore, when their dad and I pass, there will be no funeral home visits, no church service, instead they will gather with family and friends at our home and have a party to celebrate the life we enjoyed. Not everyone will agree with our choice, but it is our choice, and we want our children to laugh at all the silly things we said, did over the years. They can remember the sad times too, but most of all, we want them to realize we loved every minute with them.

Death

Over the years my children have seen a lot of death, have been to one too many funerals, spoken at one too many funerals, and now again, someone close to them is dying.

We were extremely close to my mother’s side of the family. There was my grandmother’s sister, my Aunt Teddie, we watched her die in hospital from breast cancer. I would visit her daily and read to her, I brought my kids to see her frequently, the hospital setting never scared them because she was there.  Next was the little girl in grade six, she died unexpectedly during an operation, all my children were friends with her. The teenage boy, who was very young at the time, wasn’t sure if he wanted to walk up to the casket in the funeral home. I told him that was quite okay because she would know he was there with his prayers. As it turned out, all my kids went up to the open casket to say a few words, I found it hard watching them. My mother then became ill, undiagnosed stage 4 heart disease, they gave her a year to live. Mom was in and out of hospital, in a coma for months, resuscitated, sepsis, meningitis, were all the various things she dealt with while in coma. At one point, my grandmother mistakenly told us my mother had died.

I found my eldest hiding in her room crying – she would never cry at a funeral again, she was twelve at the time and exceptionally close to my mother.  Mom came out of the hospital and was with us for another nine months or so. The last time she went into hospital was very difficult, I was the last one to hear her speak and those words haunt me – she would not see her first-born grandchild, my eldest, walk down the aisle. Mom died just before the eldest graduated from grade eight.  A year later, my grandmother, who I loved far more than words could ever express left us. I cried, cried, and cried. I didn’t know there were so many tears in me. Ten months later, I had been trying all day to reach my uncle, my mother’s brother who we had always spent Thanksgiving with, but that year we were going camping, only to find out he had passed away unexpectedly. There, at a rest stop, all five of us, my husband, three kids, and I cried. We continued to the campsite, not knowing what else to do. That night, while standing around the campfire, instead of waiting for Thanksgiving day to arrive, we ate the two pumpkin pies I had made. We went home early, another funeral to go to.  Not much later, my father became ill, liver cancer. He lived out the last six months of his life with us. The eldest was now in grade twelve, dad missed her graduation. All three kids, the eldest, middle child in grade ten, and the teenage boy in grade nine were able to say goodbye to their grandfather at the hospital, he died the next day. Two years ago, my dad’s mom passed away, she was ninety-six, she had had a long life.

Present day, another loved one is terminally ill, and to be honest I don’t know if my kids can handle another death. Even though they are older, death is not easy and they have seen a lot of death.