It happens to all of us unless we go first.
August 16, 2023 9:48 PM   Subscribe

My Parents Are Dead: What Now? A resource (aimed at Millennials, but useful to people of any age) for those who have no idea what to do when their parents die. From the last days through the funeral to probate and beyond, useful advice and links for folks who are working through one of the awful parts of adult life. US-centric.
posted by gentlyepigrams (55 comments total) 289 users marked this as a favorite
I'm posting this because I sure wish I'd had a resource like this when my mom died in 2018, and she was more prepared for her death than many folks. Sending condolences and good wishes to those of you who need this advice.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 9:49 PM on August 16, 2023 [39 favorites]

I’m sorry for your loss, gentlyepigrams. Thank you for posting this list; my parents are not dead, but are elderly, and I am taking care of another elderly relative’s affairs as she becomes less able to handle them. They are all pretty good re: wills, but there are other things that need to be done before they do die, and the “To-Die” list is very helpful.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:07 PM on August 16, 2023 [3 favorites]

This is great and very helpful because nobody tells you what any of this is like beforehand. It doesn’t help that the way hospice is talked about sometimes makes it sound like it’s some kind of delightful spa where people might happen to die. (Although it is the best of all options.) Nobody mentions that watching someone die is terrifying and gut-wrenching on many horrible, surprising levels.

Thanks for posting this, gentlyepigrams. Peace to all who are going through losing a parent.
posted by corey flood at 10:20 PM on August 16, 2023 [5 favorites]

This is a terrific post. I'm sorry for your loss gentlypigrams, but I hope it helps you to know that you used the experience to make the world a better place.

My Dad turns 80 in October. He's doing well, and is probably in better shape than I am, but he reminds me sometimes that he won't be around forever. He's cantankerous, and honestly has terrible political views, and is also a bit of a racist, which makes it hard to be around him sometimes. Family is difficult. But his mother was a lot worse. Given his upbringing, it would have been difficult for him to escape having some gunk in his soul.
posted by JHarris at 12:31 AM on August 17, 2023 [9 favorites]

This is an excellent resource, thanks for posting!

And, despite everything, I lol'd at this:

One of the (hopefully) few times you need to determine how to get rid of a body.
posted by chavenet at 2:09 AM on August 17, 2023 [9 favorites]

One of the (hopefully) few times you need to determine how to get rid of a body.

Anyone who’s been on this site for a while is suddenly thinking of the same comment.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:09 AM on August 17, 2023 [28 favorites]

The Province of Ontario publishes a straightforward guide to What to do when someone dies. Other jurisdictions probably do, too.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:12 AM on August 17, 2023 [8 favorites]

Currently going through this. The paperwork was so minimal when it was my husband. The parent thing paperwork is a nightmare even when they have most stuff in order.
posted by mightshould at 5:14 AM on August 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

This is a good resource. I wish I had this when my mom passed 2 years ago, not unexpectedly, but still tragically, from pancreatic cancer. My only regret was not staying by her side as she passed in the night. One could argue that we didn’t know how long she had, but I wish I had stayed at the hospital to hold her hand through it - even if it had meant being there for days.

I learned quickly that lawyers are your best friend when the situation is murky. In my case, an estranged and mentally ill father whom mom had written out of her will needed kid-glove handling. There’s no manual online on how to deal with that.

I’m the end, it all worked out. We’re all still sad and miss mom terribly, but at least she has been laid to rest in as thoughtful way as possible. There are plenty of things I would have done differently knowing what I know now.
posted by WorkshopGuyPNW at 5:45 AM on August 17, 2023 [3 favorites]

My mother died last year. While settling everything was a long slog, we had a few things going for us.

1. Mom prepared her PoA, will, and living will way in advance.
2. My name had been on her checking account for decades.
3. Her two children are close, and had no trouble agreeing on our decisions.

It was hard enough just saying goodbye to her. I can't imagine how hard it is for those who don't have those advantages. And that's why I'm getting things ready ahead of time for myself.
posted by Miss Cellania at 5:54 AM on August 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

A nice set of documents. A tip from my personal experience: if a stranger is conducting whatever service you have, please make sure you tell that person exactly how to refer to your mother, so that you don't have to listen to him call her "Miss Mary" 25 times. (Oh she would not have liked that!)
posted by JanetLand at 6:00 AM on August 17, 2023 [6 favorites]

1. I wish I didn't need to favorite this for future reference, but I did :(
2. The number of other Mefites who have favorited this post def says something we already knew about the site demographics
3. My brand-new middle-schooler is required to get one of the same kind of zipper binders that the website author recommends for the huge amount of documents that follow upon a parent's death, reinforcing the idea of zipper binders as a dark totem of painful life transitions
posted by daisystomper at 6:04 AM on August 17, 2023 [15 favorites]

2. The number of other Mefites who have favorited this post def says something we already knew about the site demographics

I am Gen-X and am spitting on my hands in preparation for pushing sixty. My parents are both still around, but I am almost the last of my circle of friends who can still say this.

I have long thought of the inherent dissonance in dealing with the fact that losing one’s parents is both (a) among the hardest and most painful things we have to do, and (b) the absolute best-case scenario. Anyone who had had to bury a child has gone through far worse.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:31 AM on August 17, 2023 [10 favorites]

This is a great resource and I have to admit, I chuckled at the site url -

I struggle sometimes with a seeming blind spot towards death and death rituals in North American society. I'm not suggesting that the Victorians had it right with coffins in the parlor and mourning clothes and death photography, but I for one feel adrift when I've experienced loss in my extended family. I don't know if anyone else has a similar family set up to mine, but I come from a fairly small family whose members mostly don't belong to any organized religion or strong cultural background with a defined ritual for mourning the dead, and you really feel the lack of that when relatives die. I've had a couple relatives pass and it's just, "well, your Uncle Bob is gone - he didn't want a service or memorial or anything formal, just make a donation to the ASPCA", and there's no gravesite or marker to visit, everybody just shrugs and moves on. My grandparents' generation was the last one who did the traditional church service / open casket viewing / $5,000 coffin / $2,000 headstone (or whatever they cost) and I don't blame my parents and their siblings for rejecting that, because it makes no sense if you're not part of a religious tradition and that amount of cost seems wasteful, but I wish there was *something*. I'm fully aware this is partly just me complaining about my specific upbringing and family of origin, but I know I'm not the only white millennial North American who's grappled with this.
posted by fortitude25 at 6:38 AM on August 17, 2023 [14 favorites]

Something about the need for this site seems like a reflection on how terribly lonely and isolated our society is. In any historical time people would have a close but extended network of family and friends to help at a terrible time like a parent dying. Their aunt, or grandmother, or cousin, or chaplain, or best friend who lives next door. Now help comes in the form of a SquareSpace site and a list of URLs.

Not saying a website for this information is bad, it's probably very helpful. The tone is a bit jokey / millennial for me but the information seems good. Just reflecting on what it means that a website from a stranger may be the best way for some people to get through a tragic, infrequent, but very commonplace experience.
posted by Nelson at 6:51 AM on August 17, 2023 [8 favorites]

I didn't see a link to on the "Resources" page for readers who want to spare their family/heirs/whoever this work+misery, though there seem to be other useful links for planning.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:52 AM on August 17, 2023 [9 favorites]

Grumpybearbride and I both lost our fathers over the past two years. In both cases there was no funeral. I don't think funerals are necessarily a byproduct of religion - my dad was very religious, yet no funeral. I would very much have liked for there to have been one - instead it was just a Zoom memorial service with terrible sound. I ended up having a memorial service later with his side of the family from which he was largely estranged. I made a video and prepared a speech and we all got together and ate burgers and ice cream and I cried a lot. And I took possession of his ashes since my MIL and sister expressed no interest in handling them. I've divided a portion of them into 8 small bamboo vessels which I am spreading at different points of significance over time. 3 of them have been dispersed. Fun fact about ashes: they're actually pulverized bone, and if the crematorium didn't pulverize them well enough there will be little chunks that rattle. Also: when spreading, it is really easy to accidentally get some of the ash on a tree or rock.

I also had a memorial brick commissioned and placed at a botanical garden which he frequented every weekend for decades. And I managed to save around 80+ of his voicemails to me, which I plan to use as part of a memorial art website at some point. It was very clear that he was terrified of being forgotten, and I want to make sure that doesn't happen.

I'm not sure if the website discusses this, but the death of a parent - particularly in a close-knit family for which that parent was the binding force - can have a deleterious impact on family dynamics, at least in the short term. People can become withdrawn, suddenly cruel and completely upend what you thought you knew about your relationship with them. It is extremely hard to not take it personally. It was actually easier for me because my family has always been a shitshow, so there was very little in the way of familial bonds to disrupt. But it also means that, as much as I want to put some of his ashes in the cemetery where my grandmother has a headstone, and put his name on it so he can be with her, I cannot, so long as I want to have an amicable relationship with my MIL. I was told that in no uncertain terms.

Anyway, the death of a parent is extremely traumatic, obviously. I am grateful that my relationship with my dad was the best it had ever been when he passed. There was a period of my life where we weren't speaking, and it could have continued that way if grumpybearbride hadn't convinced me to go see him when we moved across the country.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:57 AM on August 17, 2023 [9 favorites]

fortitude25, I absolutely get what you are saying. I had a friend pass earlier this year. We had been wonderful close friends in our teens and twenties then we had gone off to our lives and didn't stay in touch. When I heard that he had passed suddenly, I knew I wanted to go to the "Celebration of Life" (no funeral) but I had no idea how much I *needed* to go until I was on my way there. It was really critical to making it real that he was gone, and to talk to people about him, to process that this had happened. I really understood the importance of this kind of ritual to mark these transitions.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:59 AM on August 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

Pretty much the only thing we had in our corner when our parents passed (father in 2009, mother last year) is that my sister and I are very close, and there was never any chance of us fighting over anything, even had there actually been anything. We are lucky in that regard, and a lot of work has gone into making our relationship stronger on both of our sides. I feel for anyone who struggles with family in times like this. Some of those struggles (with others in the family) helped bring us closer together, and I do t know what I would have done without her.

Neither parent took even the smallest steps to make things easier for us, and it has left a lasting sense of negativity over all my memories of them. For those of you who are able, whose parents might actually listen, try to get them to prepare, to put things in order. It is the last best kindness we can give each other, especially those we love and who love us in return. While a guide like this would have been a boon last year, I am happy that it’s out there, and my deepest condolences go to anyone who finds that they need to use it.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:16 AM on August 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

My parents are both long gone. They were estranged from each other, neither had any property or money except the odd bits of stuff here and there. There wasn’t too much to take care of there. The in-laws, however… I’ve asked them multiple times to prepare wills. I don’t care if they leave everything to their cocker spaniels, just don’t leave us a probate mess to have to clean up, because there’s other distant siblings who will get involved and things will become a mess really fast. (I watched a probate fight up close involving a grandparent. The family member handling it went through hell for years.) They, unfortunately, haven’t listened :( Like I said, I don’t care who or what they leave any money or possessions to, I just don’t want the mess.
posted by azpenguin at 7:19 AM on August 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

One thing came as a very hurtful shock to me when my beloved dad died: I had always thought that when my darkest hour came that at least my many family and friends would be there for me in person with casseroles and flowers maybe, or if far away would send a note. Literally no one did any of that because I had I posted about my loss to Facebook. People commented once and then left me utterly alone in my grief. It was awful and I came close to attempting suicide over it.

So my advice: don't post about your loss on social media until later. Ask someone close to you to spread the word via other means. Also, if you are reasonably close to someone who has suffered a loss, a comment on social media with no follow up is really not enough. I make a big effort now to acknowledge people's losses in person now if at all possible.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:29 AM on August 17, 2023 [19 favorites]

My sister and I didn't have to fight over the estate two years ago at least.

When mom started heading south that spring I decided we should go the Transfer-on-Death deed route, to keep the house out of probate and risk of medicaid recovery.

Only hiccup with that was my sister deeding her half back to me lost the Prop 13 limit on that part of the valuation, but in the scheme of things that's minor and actually fair since she did want to cash out.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:31 AM on August 17, 2023

I'm one of the many of us here who has had to deal with this recently. In my case, it was in some ways about as easy as it possibly can be -- there was a will, all of the heirs cooperated and worked together with no fights or disagreements, the estate was pretty simple (no real estate, no debts, no business entanglements) and, unlike what friends of mine have gone through, the estate had some assets. It's way easier when there is money in the bank accounts to pay for things like funeral home costs, rather than having to start out by asking all the "heirs" (who won't inherit anything) to chip in. And, very fortunately, I personally had savings so I could front the money for things that the estate would eventually pay for once there was access to bank accounts and so on, which ended up taking quite a while.

But there were a lot of things that made it really difficult, too. Some was a quirk of my parent living and banking in more than one jurisdiction, but also this was during covid lockdowns so everything was way more difficult. And in terms of paperwork and organization, about half of it was in order and the other half was completely not in order. It's hard because you are having to make decisions every day with very little information and guidance.

I reached out to the mefite Cold Chef who gave me really invaluable and generous advice on what words to use and what specifically to ask for with the funeral home to get what my parent had wanted. I'll always be grateful for that, and for all the other people who gave time so generously. That aspect still makes me tear up, honestly. And, there were dozens of people at banks and phone companies and so on who bent rules to make things happen compassionately even when there were paperwork slowdowns or errors.

And, I ended up having good experiences with lawyers and tax firms, who all did great work within the estimates they had given.

Best wishes to anyone who is dealing with this now or looking at likely dealing with it in the future.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2023 [8 favorites]

Also, I work for a big soulless corporation with very limited policies around things like bereavement leave. To my surprise and also endless appreciation, the leadership several layers above me and my immediate coworkers basically gave me all the space and time needed, plus endless flexibility, without having to touch my actual leave. There were so many days where I had to spend 3 or 4 hours on hold with banks, or standing in lines to get wire transfers or notarizations done.

The amount of personal time that this can take the executor is something I hadn't planned on or even known about. I think with money you can buy your way out of some of this (like having lawyers do more) but we were not in that financial position.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:48 AM on August 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

My mother is putting her affairs in order due to illness right now and while it stresses me I also consider it a huge act of caring. I am glad to be from a cultural background that has made an art of death and grieving and know there will be a set of specific things to do on each of the days after her death until her funeral (whenever that may be) and can count on others to step into helping roles in that time. Myself and my partner have had a lot of loss, all our grandparents have gone while we were adults and this is the last of our 4+ parents. What happens after that with my somewhat dependent sibling etc remains to be seen, but that bridge will have to be crossed when the time comes. Either many years ago or many years from now would have been easier in some ways, but here we are.
I can only reiterate, to anyone in the thread with children, please, please, please have a clear and specific will easily available. Yes now already, yes even if you have "nothing", the amount of absolute nightmare you will save your children in the future cannot be understated. Also, please don't hide valuables in the house (maybe more advice for your own parents) for safekeeping, it just means that your family can't throw anything out without searching through it, prolonging an already difficult process, and I am pretty sure we also managed to inadvertently trash the heirloom jewlery in one case.
posted by Iteki at 7:49 AM on August 17, 2023 [5 favorites]

One of the most loving things you can ever do for your family is get your legal and financial affairs in order before you die. Probate is utter hell. I’m so thankful my elderly parents are on top of all that, especially as an only child.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:18 AM on August 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

That goes in all generational directions, too, just in case.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:18 AM on August 17, 2023

Why Gen Z Uses Humor to Cope with Death
posted by gwint at 8:23 AM on August 17, 2023

My father died very suddenly and unexpectedly in 1996, and my family had to learn some of this stuff the hard way really fast then. So, when my brother died suddenly and unexpectedly two years ago, it felt extremely straighforward (the fact that he had no wife or children or any property to speak of certainly made things go quickly, too). My mother is now 82, and seems more and more frail every time I see her. This time around, we will have to deal with the disposition of her house; my remaining brother and I would like to see her sell it now to his son and son's fiancee so that it's not hanging over us when that sad day comes.
posted by briank at 8:34 AM on August 17, 2023

"one of the awful parts of adult life."
My parents were 95+ when they died. It was time. Especially for my mother who had progressive brain rot for the last 6 years of her life.
And, my brother got stuck managing all the legal stuff.
posted by davebarnes at 9:02 AM on August 17, 2023

I'm in the "my parent is not quite dead" stage, but this site is a fantastic resource, and the gallows humor is so perfectly *exactly* up my alley.
posted by lhauser at 9:14 AM on August 17, 2023

48, only child, both parents gone within the last 6 years. And let me tell you, even if you think shit is together, please for the love of Mike, double-check things.

My mom was the last one to go and had soooo much in order and so much was made simple for me, except one small problem that we didn't discover until after her death. The lawyer who did her will was the same one who did my dad's and for some quirk of fate, the signature block on mom's will actually was the signature block from my Dad's. So despite having a valid will that was fine and unchanged since 1997, my mom died intestate. Which is not a huge deal when you're an only child but wasn't the most simple thing to manage.

Also, my aunts and uncles have all passed away in the last 6 years as well, so effectively all the adults I was related to are gone. And there's a very odd feeling that comes with that realization. It's freeing and also a little heavy at the same time to realize that every adult that watched your firsts (steps, words, graduations, etc) is no longer here. The only people left to tell the stories of your child hood are you and cousins of the same age. It's honestly something I thought I prepared for but you don't really know until it happens.
posted by teleri025 at 9:16 AM on August 17, 2023 [12 favorites]

I mentioned on the Blue recently that my mom has received an Alzheimer's diagnosis, and even though she doesn't have much of anything in the way of assets, my sister is being proactive about POA, a basic will, and probably lots more stuff than I can remember. She will be my mom's caretaker from now on (she's my only sibling and I live in Canada) and perhaps this might be of use to her. The catch is: despite her taking the reins of my mom's illness, any actual conversation about her death and the aftermath (burial? cremation?) will be stalled by her and my mom. My incredible sister has PTSD due to a very traumatic event she witnessed when she was 18, so anything that remotely smacks of death IRL she stringently avoids. I would take this on if she wanted me too, and I guess it doesn't hurt to ask.

I am 46 years old and like so many foolish mortals before me, I just never thought of my mom dying one day. There is no manual for that realization.
posted by Kitteh at 9:51 AM on August 17, 2023 [3 favorites]

Also, my aunts and uncles have all passed away in the last 6 years as well, so effectively all the adults I was related to are gone. And there's a very odd feeling that comes with that realization. It's freeing and also a little heavy at the same time to realize that every adult that watched your firsts (steps, words, graduations, etc) is no longer here. The only people left to tell the stories of your child hood are you and cousins of the same age. It's honestly something I thought I prepared for but you don't really know until it happens.

I'm optimistically about 5-10 years out from being in the exact same position. And my cousins, though I love them dearly, did not spend very much time with me as a kid, for many reasons. I'm 47. I feel for you, teleri025. Being an only child means navigating this emotional and memory space mostly alone, without any genuine familial peers.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:58 AM on August 17, 2023 [6 favorites]

Previously: another gallows-humor resource on similar topics, including "Depressing Mad Libs" (obituary templates), and "So You Suddenly Have To Become Some Kind of Hacker" on figuring out how to get access to the deceased person's online accounts. There were some good tips shared in that thread, too.

My condolences to all of us who are at any stage of going through or having gone through this. I've now outlived both my parents, one of whom died earlier this year. I'm in the midst of writing a giant blog post or series of posts covering things I'd liked to have known earlier, such as:

Changes to expect in the months, weeks, and days before death
Easy-to-eat food, and letting your friends help you
Chaplains can do a lot
Taking medical notes/notetaking by the bedside
Wills, powers of attorney, and advance health care directives
Organ and body donation, and donating unused medicine
Palliative care, hospice, insurance, and hospice facility eligibility
Delirium and persuasion
Music for comfort
Books that helped me prepare for this

and I'm going to be looking at "My Parents Are Dead: What Now?" so I can link to it and so I can avoid needlessly duplicating stuff she's already written.
posted by brainwane at 9:59 AM on August 17, 2023 [7 favorites]

My mother is facing this, probably in the pretty near future, and I am bracing for how weird it will be for her. She's 76. Grandma is 101. I just got a text from Mom yesterday that Grandma isn't feeling great, which I assume means that her frankly ridiculous vitality is, at last, waning. I really can't imagine what it would be like to be nearing retirement with your mother still around and living independently, although I hope I find out. (My grandfather died in his 50s, before I was born, and Grandma's other partner left her ten years or so ago when his dementia made him paranoid. He passed away several years back.)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:09 AM on August 17, 2023

Also be prepared for a sibling to act like an ass and take you to court because they (actually their spouse) are greedy. So much to the point that mine was trying to make me homeless.
posted by kathrynm at 11:37 AM on August 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

Also be prepared for a sibling to act like an ass and take you to court because they (actually their spouse) are greedy. So much to the point that mine was trying to make me homeless.

I'm sorry that happened to you. My personal experience was fortunately the opposite of this, with everyone cooperating, even divorced/separated partners, to help get things figured out and settled cooperatively. But I've seen what you describe, too, and you just don't know how it will go in your family until it happens. Death brings out All The Feelings and really surprising things come out of hidden places for a lot of people.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:53 AM on August 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

my mother who had progressive brain rot for the last 6 years of her life.

My mom died of Alzheimer's and was miserable for a couple of years before her death. It was a relief in some ways. But yeah, still awful. YMMV.

My father died very suddenly and unexpectedly in 1996.

My dad went of a heart attack in 1987, which is why so much was prepared in advance by my mom. Between his death and the horror story of my maternal grandmother (feeding tube after a stroke in the 70s; this was before Karen-Ann Quinlan; she lasted two years and never regained consciousness), my mom was really motivated to get her ducks in a row.

Also, my aunts and uncles have all passed away in the last 6 years as well, so effectively all the adults I was related to are gone. And there's a very odd feeling that comes with that realization. It's freeing and also a little heavy at the same time to realize that every adult that watched your firsts (steps, words, graduations, etc) is no longer here. The only people left to tell the stories of your child hood are you and cousins of the same age.

This is me except I'm a late-life child and my cousins are all a half-generation at least older than I am. Basically I am the only teller of my own tales now. I read a really good book called The Orphaned Adult: Understanding And Coping With Grief And Change After The Death Of Our Parents, by Alexander Levy, which I commend to any of us who are without our parents. There's a lot to work through when you are not just an adult, but the adultiest adult.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 12:42 PM on August 17, 2023 [6 favorites]

My partner is currently staring down the barrel of this one with their remaining parent. (It is at the stage of throwing the word 'hospice' around.) They are not the Organized Sibling. They have, in fact, unmedicated ADHD and struggle with things like 'calling the bank about this unexpected charge'. (I am not better at phones, but I am a kind of neurodivergent that at least lets me find my socks).

The Organized Sibling lives 30 hours flying time away and probably won't be able to make it back. The second most Organized Sibling died suddenly late last year. The Sibling Everyone Loved died about a decade ago. The Other Parent didn't make it out of the 20th century.

I don't know how to help without being an ass. Would this be a good thing to make an AskMe for?
posted by ngaiotonga at 2:21 PM on August 17, 2023 [4 favorites]

My brand-new middle-schooler is required to get one of the same kind of zipper binders that the website author recommends for the huge amount of documents that follow upon a parent's death

The Trapper Reaper.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:48 PM on August 17, 2023 [6 favorites]

My parents are both alive but have dealt with the deaths of their remaining parents as well as mom being an executor for an unexpected death on her side and they've actually started putting paperwork and plans together for my brother and I once they pass.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 4:51 PM on August 17, 2023

when my father died in March I made my needs clear on fb and by email to family/friends: that people I know care about me unconditionally be at the shivah ( my favorite cousins were able to be there), that i wanted hugs but must have it respected when I needed to let go and that I didn't want to talk to a slimy relative.

I wasn't able to avoid the last and I also had to deal with a toxic friend of my parents who hadn't taken the hint when I blocked her on my social media.

I told my brother and his gf that I didn't want her at the memorial this Sunday when I saw her name on the guest list last month. If my mother wishes to socialize with her she can do it on her own time. So far no one has responded.

Daddy's ashes were separated and put into 3 brass boxes. I have no idea how to open mine.
posted by brujita at 5:18 PM on August 17, 2023

Both my parents died within the past 4 years. A beneficiary deed and POD banking accounts make things go very smoothly and at a minimal cost without having to go through probate.
posted by atomicmedia at 5:54 PM on August 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

Am I the only one who is simultaneously incredibly grateful that this was posted and incredibly afraid to actually click the link or favorite the post in case it triggers some evil eye effect? After losing my father during Covid and not being able to do literally anything (because Covid), so I don’t even know everything my mom shouldered, but I know how strong she is and how hard it was for her, I’m super happy in denial, thanks. But thank you for posting this.
posted by Mchelly at 6:04 PM on August 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

Also, my aunts and uncles have all passed away in the last 6 years as well, so effectively all the adults I was related to are gone. ... The only people left to tell the stories of your child hood are you and cousins of the same age.

teleri025 and grupybear69, my heart goes out to you guys. My son is an only child and will be left in this position someday when it's my time (hopefully not for a long time of course). I feel really sad when I think about him having to experience this. The best I can think of is to try to help him develop and maintain closeness with his cousins and learn how to make and keep friends, and hope that he's started a family of his own when the time comes.
posted by technodelic at 9:15 PM on August 17, 2023 [1 favorite]

My mother is 90, and is currently resting in the nap nook in our living room. I brought her up here (small coastal town, rural) because she was suffering so during the current heat wave. She has been fading since her birthday in June, and when her assisting living facility called a few days ago to tell me that she had stopped eating I had a very, very, bad night where I sobbed "I'm not ready!" over and over. I'm not, even though I thought I was. We've prepared everything; my mom redid her will a couple of years ago, we have directives for end of life care and the DNRs and so on but the actual, wrenching, realisation that she will be GONE and all that will be left are my memories is like a knife thrust in the heart. It's shitty enough that every time I open Facebook I read about another acquaintance who's met their end through cancer or a heart attack, people who I remember on the dance floor in their twenties, full of life, back in 1984 or something; it's another to feel that an entire world of memory and event is disappearing. Who remembers that little storefront in Mount Pleasant where three young women set up an art gallery in 1993, and the gigs held there? Anyway, I'm rambling, but this is all happening in the face of the true Boomers falling around us too-- those ten or fifteen years older than my cohort, who were born in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I watched in awe and envy as they created a whole culture and lived magnificent adventures (please allow for my 12 year old impressionability). My mom's murmuring in her sleep and saying "Oh dear, oh dear". The ground shifts and cracks under my feet. The old must make way for the young, and that means me, too. Amen.
posted by jokeefe at 9:21 PM on August 17, 2023 [13 favorites]

Year to the day since my father passed. This would have been helpful, thanks for a useful post.
posted by kensington314 at 11:54 PM on August 17, 2023 [2 favorites]

My mother died very suddenly just over nine years ago. I wasn't prepared. I was getting prepared because of a diagnosis she'd just gotten, but then she just...went one morning months before the estimate the doctors gave her.

My father is in his 80s. He's still doing pretty well--ambulatory, has most of his mental faculties, all that--but it's just a matter of time, and I'm dreading the day. It's going to be hard enough, but it's all going to be compounded by the fact that I live thousands of miles and an entire ocean away from him.

He lives with my brother, true, but my brother is not to be depended on in any kind of crisis that involves paperwork, or indeed any actual kind of research or effort. I'm about 95% sure that when the time comes, I'm the one who's going to have to fly his ass across the Atlantic and try to handle funeral arrangements, probate, etc., while jet-lagged all to fuck.

Sorry. That kind of turned into a rant.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:07 AM on August 18, 2023 [3 favorites]

"If you’re reading this, one of your parents has died."

Rather discomfiting if this is not true for the reader. (Still a great resource, I'm sure.)
posted by obfuscation at 6:14 AM on August 18, 2023 [1 favorite]

Mod note: [btw, this post has been added to the sidebar]
posted by taz (staff) at 1:15 AM on August 21, 2023 [2 favorites]

@technodelic, don't stress overmuch for your son. At least with me, I knew most of my adult life that this was a side effect of being an only. The "perk" of it is that I know that there is absolutely no one who will give me shit or sue me or tell me I managed the estate wrong. I wish my parents had been a little more thoughtful and given away the things they wanted folks to have but I understand that death never comes on your timeline. But honestly, after seeing how my friends with siblings have dealt with their parents' deaths, being alone at this point isn't that awful. It's far better than being screamed at over a gravy boat or some such shit.

Let him know you love him and get rid of as much clutter as you can when you can and that's really all anyone can ask.
posted by teleri025 at 1:37 PM on August 21, 2023

My dad died in 1991 and my mom in 2005. That's more than half of my life without my dad.
posted by mike3k at 6:43 PM on August 21, 2023 [4 favorites]

I dove into the link when it was posted last week, expect to be looking to it as a resource sooner than later.

Thank you for posting, gentlyepigrams.
posted by jaruwaan at 10:35 AM on August 22, 2023

My folks passed 3 weeks apart, back in '96. No will to be found. It took quite a while to unwind everything. Best story to come out of it all involved jury duty.

My father and I share the same first name and middle initial. After his demise he started getting jury duty notices, of increasingly threatening insistence. I called them, and provided a copy of his death certificate but the notices kept coming. I did not want to have something like a traffic stop turn into my getting arrested for failing to appear (the name and initial problem). So I took his cremated remains down to the jury commissioner's office. When it was my turn, I approached the counter and said "You keep insisting he show up, SO HERE HE IS!" And opened the box. The clerk panicked and scurried off to get a supervisor. I explained my frustration (along with a healthy dose of drama about the agony of having to keep going through this) and was promised it would never happen again. Even I didn't get any notices in the years following when I still lived in that area.

But the story GETS BETTER.

Years later, an attorney friend of mine was in a court in that jurisdiction and they were hearing a number of arraignments before his client's case. One of which was for failing to appear for jury duty. During which the judge said, and I'm paraphrasing, "Unless you've died and someone brings your remains to the court, NOBODY gets out of jury duty!" My friend had to leave the courtroom because of how hard it was to not BUST OUT LAUGHING.

My Dad would have loved it, to have entered local folklore is perhaps among the BEST ways to be remembered.

Meanwhile my wife and I both put a lot of effort into clearly documenting our wishes and how various assests should be handled. No way I'd want to put our child through that same trouble.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:58 PM on August 26, 2023 [7 favorites]

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