When my dad passed away almost three years ago, there was a steep learning curve for handling “the business of dying.” I’ve started a blog post to share lessons learned several times, but never finished it. I finally decided to sit down at the microphone with my friend Wendy Pope. Wendy also walked through caring for aging parents as they physically declined and eventually navigated both of their deaths.
Today’s episode is a little different. Wendy and I are both authors and speakers, but not today in this episode. Today we’re coming to you as two women who have had at least one parent pass away. We’re sharing openly about our experience and the details we wish we would have known in caring for them and managing their death. We’re also sharing with you things you can do NOW to help those who will come behind you someday.
Losing a loved one is an experience that all of us will experience at some point in our lives. After Wendy and I recently recorded a podcast episode on the topic of one of her books, we really connected over our experiences of caring for and then losing a parent, and we felt it was important to share what we learned in a podcast episode that can support others so they might be able to be better prepared. That’s our hope for you. We hope this conversation is a practical support to you so you can have conversations, put together details, and be more prepared for caring for a loved one who needs help as they age and ultimately handling a loved one’s move to heaven (or preparing your own family for your move to heaven).
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- Details that you should try to know before you care for and lose a parent
- Logistical details you should get in order now to make it easier on your loved ones before your own move to heaven
- Unexpected things we learned after losing our parent(s)
- What an “everything book” is and how you can create one
- Practical information like how many death certificates you should plan to have
- How to proactively prepare your own adult kids before your passing
This is one of the longer episodes I’ll share on the podcast, as it’s very important to us that we provided an in-depth resource for you on such an important topic. I hope this is a practical support for you! This also may be an episode that’s good to bookmark and revisit in the future.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Connecting with God Everyday with Wendy Pope | Episode 82
- The National Council on Aging
- Download the Password/Budget/Insurance Spreadsheet Template: Password-Budget-Insurance-Spreadsheet.xlsx
- Wendy’s Website
- How to Make an Everything Binder Blog Post
- Follow Wendy on Instagram and Facebook
- As a thank you for listening, get your 3 free eBooks!
My Key Takeaways:
1) Know where all the important papers are located. I highly recommend creating an “everything book” with any and all paperwork, passwords, and medical directives inside. These are things that you will need and oftentimes are hard to find! Make sure you have the titles to any vehicles, insurance policies, health insurance, life insurance, medicare, prepaid burial information, burial plot information, bank records, power of attorney, medical power of attorney, financial investments, will, living will, end of life directives, and passwords. If you or your parents don’t have any of these documents, schedule some time with a lawyer that can help you draw them up.
2) Have tough conversations early. If you’ve ever had to care for an aging parent or know the burden of having to make decisions without having those tough conversations early, you know how important this is. Talk with your aging parents about what their wishes are and how they want to live out the rest of their days on this earth. Maybe, like Wendy, you want to come up with some questions to help you have those conversations regularly. For Wendy, she regularly asked her parents, “Are you safe? Are you healthy? Are you okay financially?”
3) Teach your kids how to grieve. We often want to hide our grief to protect our children from experiencing heartache too early. However, we need to show our children in an age-appropriate way that grief is okay. Let your children see you grieve and through that learn how to process loss. The way they see us grieve will help them have the tools to process it themselves.
Wendy Pope is an author, speaker, and the Founder and President of Word Up Ministries. Her ministry’s focus is helping others learn God’s Word, live it, and love it. Wendy is down-to-earth and transparent and her teaching style reflects her personality as she speaks directly to women’s hearts. She is the author of five books including Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Pains and Jesus Everlasting: Leaning on Our Counselor, Defender, Father, and Friend. Wendy is a mother to two grown children and lives in Monroe, NC with her husband, Scott, and their Boykin Spaniel named Maxie. Learn more at https://wendypope.org/ —
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The podcast was very informative. We have already been through the process a couple of times and my only item we found helpful that was not mentioned is the pre-planning and payment for as much of the funeral/burial services as possible. Though I handled the financial end for my Dad’s estate, one of my brothers had “interviewed” my father and made most of the arrangements prior to his death. It was a Huge burden lifter for me. Thanks for dealing with this topic. We are trying to get our act together for our children- it is complicated.
Kathryn, yes, thank you for adding that to the conversation here. That can be a huge help!
This was a really helpful podcast. It is well worth the 97 minutes of someone’s time to listen to it.
I am currently navigating this process with my parents.
I really appreciate the information about funeral homes charging every time the body is moved, about buying 15-20 death certificates at the funeral home, and the warning that obituaries are expensive. I like the suggestion that you just publish the basics in the newspaper with the link to funeral home website for full obituary. I would also suggest just writing it yourself and posting on your social media page and your parent’s pages.
Another suggestion I would make is that if your loved one has accounts on social media, ask them what they want to happen to their account after their death. They can opt to make you a legacy contact so that you can access the account and update it when they are deceased. Another option may be that they choose to have the account(s) deleted after their death. Both of these options can be selected by them while they are alive. Surviving children or spouses can also contact the platform and ask to have the account memorialized. (This info is pertinent to Facebook, but probably exists for other accounts as well.) Definitely a consideration in this technological world that many parents and grandparents are current with.
Thank you for this podcast, Jill and Wendy.
Kim, thank you for adding to the conversation! Yes on the social media legacy contact.
This is such an important topic! Thank you for diving in. I appreciate the idea of logging into a parent’s account to make sure they are still handling their finances well. I would add that any list of their passwords should be stored securely, preferably in a password vault. And if you add yourself to a parent’s credit card, you will want to be aware of any implications to your own credit. Finally, I loved the social media discussion in the comments – and would add if your parent does genealogy, it is good to have a successor on those accounts as well!
Great insight Carol. Thank you!