Do you remember when our cat died and it put me into a morbid, death-considering, not-really-cat-related thought process for awhile? Last week my father-in-law died suddenly (likely from a heart attack), and that event has tipped me into another such thinkhole.
If you remember him from previous posts (in that last one, I compare him to Britney Spears), you'll know we aren't wearing black arm bands; we're more startled-but-relieved, and grateful that his body was coincidentally found quickly. My sad-spectrum feelings have mostly been pity-based, for how a life can look when it's put in a packet at the end like this (he spent pretty much the whole thing lamenting his unappreciated potential), and for how he lived it so that his kids aren't sad and don't want to have a service for him. And then of course I've been Margaret-you-mourn-for-ing that maybe my life will look sad when it's all packeted up and that my children won't want to have a service for me and that they'll be nothing but relieved when I die.
I'm also fretting because this means both Paul's parents died of heart attacks in their sixties. That looks a bit grim for Paul's future.
And I'm fretting because we JUST finished my mother-in-law's estate (it took over two years), and now ANOTHER one! This one at least looks like it will be less complicated: the most likely final outcome is that we will split with Paul's sister the cost of cremation and the cost of hiring someone to carry decades of hoarding out of an apartment, and that there will be nothing valuable to have to figure out how to divide.
I feel weird that the kids have already lost two grandparents, even though I know that's more common than what happened with me, which is that I didn't start losing grandparents until after I had children. The kids themselves were only slightly weirded: they'd never met this grandfather or had any contact with him, so it was more of a theoretical impact on their emotions.
I'm also fretting because of something my mom told me once, about how when all four of my grandparents had died, she realized she was in the next group lined up to go.
Because my father-in-law's death was so sudden, as was Paul's mother's, it's made me feel out-of-proportion-to-likelihood anxious that I will die suddenly. I was lying awake fretting intensely about this ("IT COULD HAPPEN ANY SECOND!!"), so I decided to try doing some psych solution I read about somewhere, which was to try to figure out which parts scared me, and then divide those into "Anything I can do something about" and "Anything I can't," in the hopes of reducing the fret-spiral.
One of the things making me scared was picturing people finding my body, and that maybe I would look gross or awful or scary or contorted or horrifying or stare-eyed or whatever. That has to go into "Anything I can't": there isn't anything I can do about that part except to remember that everyone is in the same boat on that one, and to remember that when people find a body they go into Emergency Mode and aren't really prioritizing details of what someone looks like. They're probably thinking more like "OMG DEAD OMG DEAD." Plus, lots of people die in such a way that "find" is not the applicable verb. So.
Another thing upsetting me was what we're facing with my father-in-law, which is that we don't even know if/where he has accounts, or where his important papers are, or if he has a safe deposit box, or if/where he has a will, or ANYTHING. And that's a fret I CAN do something about, so yesterday I took some first steps. I made an "In Case of Death" file folder for the filing cabinet. I made a dated list (dated so I and anyone else would know how recently it had been updated) of all our accounts (bank, stocks, CDs, life insurance, retirement), and made a list of everyone's Social Security numbers, and mentioned the weird place I keep the checkbook for my personal account, and mentioned where I keep the key to the fireproof safe.
I might have missed an account or helpful detail, but at least I know I put down MOST of them. I had to override the impulse to leave it for the hypothetical Future Me who would know everything
I should do to make The Perfect Nothing-Missing List, and who furthermore wouldn't mind doing the task at ALL and would in fact be EAGER to do so.
Anything is better than nothing. Writing down ONE SINGLE account number
is better than nothing. MAKING THE FOLDER is better than nothing: even just having that folder IN EXISTENCE helps motivate me to put things into it. My plan is to let my annual morbid birthday thoughts trigger me to update the information each year---but if I don't, this one list is still better than nothing.
I also worked on a "Notify" list, because it was upsetting to me that Paul and his sister don't even know if there's anyone they should contact about their dad's death. Does he have friends? belong to a church? play bingo? No one knows. And there are a few people I don't think my family would know to contact. But it was a little depressing to go through my address book and realize with how few people it matters if they hear it right away or just find out on Facebook.
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...