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Don’t Make Your Children Plan Your Funeral

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Interview Part 1

I’m excited to share with you all today the experience of a personal friend of mine, Chasity Galyon. Chasity is a wife, mom to three kids, former educator, and social media coordinator and writer for Knoxville Home Organizer.

Today she is going to share her experience with one of her parents who had no aging in place plan or end of life wishes. She has some important advice when it comes to the impact on adult children when parents fail to plan for medical crises, the changes that aging brings to the family, or even death. 

Failing to plan for aging in place and end of life can intensify the burden of care and level of grief that adult children experience. 

This interview can help you process the impact before your own family finds themselves in this situation. 

I am so thankful that Chasity is willing to be vulnerable for the sake of others. 

Allison: First of all, please share just a bit of background regarding your mom and any circumstances you are comfortable discussing.

Chasity: Sure. My mom was in her mid-forties when she passed away. Aging in place and end-of-life wishes were not even on any of our radars. Her death was quite sudden and tragic, so my siblings and I had no idea how to handle the details.

We didn’t even know what her wishes were for managing her belongings or her desires for her funeral. 

There was no money available to pay for expenses. I had just graduated from college and had no savings and little to no residual income at the end of the month. 

Allison: I am so sorry to hear that. Do you mind sharing how that impacted you?

Chasity: Thank you. I don’t mind sharing at all. 

Her death was definitely a blow and the grief really took a toll on us. We were so overwhelmed that it was incredibly difficult to even think about how to handle her assets or plan her funeral. 

Some of my siblings were too young to have to be responsible for the details, so it was basically up to me and my brother since my mom was not married at the time. 

Allison: You mentioned she was single. So did you have to go through her belongings and deal with her home?

Chasity: Well, she had been dealing with some health issues for a while so things were not in the best order in her home. She was renting and honestly, my grief was so intense that I could not even go into her home. She had died there, and it was just too much for me. 

Basically, I was in survival mode and knew I had to arrange the funeral. That was all I could handle at that point in time. I ended up leaving everything in her home and whoever wanted to go in and take stuff could. 

brown and red house near trees

I know that sounds terrible, but when you have no idea what someone’s wishes are and the grief is so heavy, you just don’t have the mental capacity to process it all. 

Allison: That makes sense. No judgment here. The loss of a parent is devastating. 

If you could go back and ask your mom to do some things differently, what would you ask her to do?

Chasity: Wow. That is a great question. I know we are going to talk about my experience with my dad, so I will just say that I wish that she would have outlined her wishes for how to deal with her things. It would have been wonderful if she would have made her funeral arrangements in advance so that I didn’t have to think about it. If those things had been arranged and paid for, I wouldn’t have felt so helpless. 

I know that may sound a bit morbid. We weren’t expecting to lose her in her forties so we don’t fault her. But still, it does make me think about things a bit differently for my own children as someone in my late forties. I never want them to go through what I went through. 

I want my home organized. I want my funeral planned down to the smallest detail.

I know first-hand that is a very loving thing to do for my children.

Allison: Absolutely. I know your experience with your dad was completely different. And, you are right; it is very loving to take care of these things for your family members so they can focus on their grief and remember the legacy of their loved one. Thank you for sharing this personal experience with us.

Chasity: It was my pleasure.

There is so much wisdom in learning from the experiences of others. If my story can help someone else, then that means the world to me.

It brings a little bit of redemption to a difficult situation.

As I process what Chasity shared, there are some key takeaways from her experience. 

  1. It is essential and loving to make our end of life wishes ourselves and then make them known to our loved ones. 
  2. Grief will overshadow the ability to think clearly. 
  3. Anything we can declutter, organize and put in place now relieves a significant burden on our adult children and spouse. 
  4. Lack of planning, avoidance, and procrastination can compound the pain and stress of loss on your loved ones. 
  5. We never know when a crisis will hit so it is important to proactively plan now. 

Next week, I am going to share her experience with her dad. It was the complete opposite of her experience with her mom. Her dad had the hindsight of seeing what Chasity went through with the loss of her mom and did not want her to go through that again. 

His planning was nothing short of a gift. Next week Chasity will share how she was able to focus on friends, family, and the beauty of the life her dad lived instead of all of the decisions about his aging in place and end of life plans because he did not wait to take action. 

Now is the time to begin the conversations. Now is the time to plan. Now is the time to implement your wishes and organize your home and paperwork. It is the loving thing to do.

You can do hard things for the sake of the ones you love.

Be sure and check back next week for Part 2 of my interview with Chasity. Have a wonderful week!

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