Reflections on death and funerals and such

My 89 year old father passed away in December from congestive heart failure.  As deaths go, this was not a bad way to exit.  Of course he is deeply missed by family and friends – and especially by my mom, to whom he was married for 61 years.  But for a guy who grew up in “Grapes of Wrath” Oklahoma (i.e., on a farm in the dust bowl) and had a successful career and family, and who served people all the way until his last weeks, and who got to say goodbye to everyone and die fairly painlessly (only 1.5 days in hospice care), it could have been a lot worse.  Some random thoughts . . .

  • The hospice care from the nurses was amazing.  We really appreciated how they handled everything.
  • God’s sovereignty was on display in many big and small things.  I was able to change my flight and get out of town a day before the airports were shut down for weather issues.  I just happened to have a trip scheduled to help them get their house ready to sell (so they could move to a senior living place) so I showed up right after my dad had gone in the hospital.  I stayed more than a week longer than planned, but the trip was open-ended as I had already planned to drive home with a couple pieces of furniture my parents wanted us to have.  And so on. 
  • The funeral was awful.  They didn’t say anything false, so at least I didn’t have to do a rebuttal.  But they didn’t present the Gospel, they didn’t show the lyrics to a song that everyone was supposed to be singing, they forgot to read a Bible passage that my dad had requested, the message from the pastor was not well-prepared, etc.  But tons of people came and my mom was fine with it, so there’s that (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read my blog, BTW).  It did prompt my wife and I to update our preferences for our funerals.  You should do the same. 
  • Dying generates a lot of paperwork.  Some things were very easy to deal with and others were quite the hassle.  To my dad’s great credit, he was very organized and had planned things well.  He had a password management software from which I was able to export all his logins and import it to Dashlane, the password manager I use.  That has saved me countless hours.  If you don’t have your things organized, you need to make plans to do it in the next month.
  • Having updated wills and Power of Attorney documents is hugely important.
  • We had to wait 4.5 hours at the Social Security office to transfer some responsibilities that my dad had over to me.  Only 20 minutes of that was spent with the SS employee.  They gave us no estimate of how long it would take.  But we should still let the government take responsibility for over 100% of our health care.  What could go wrong? 
  • Funerals are expensive. I thought it would be all about the casket, but they were actually low pressure on that and it was a small portion of the total cost.
  • There were many opportunities to witness throughout this process.  People were rightly cautious in what they said to us, but it was easy to put them at ease by pointing out that my mom, dad and I were all committed believers.  He was completely ready to go.  It led to several theological discussions. 
  • At the hospice . . .
    • Clergy: We serve all faith traditions.
    • Me: Thanks, but we’re all Jesus, all the time. 
  • It has been a blessing and an honor to get to spend so much time helping my mom with finances and such and just talking to her more.  Haven’t spent that much time with her since the 1970’s.
  • Closing out some accounts has been a huge hassle.  DirecTV was the worst.  At one point one of their employees insisted that I needed to come to a store with a death certificate to cancel my dad’s service.  Uh, are you saying your product is so awful that people often fake their own deaths to get out of contracts with you? 

5 thoughts on “Reflections on death and funerals and such”

  1. So sorry to hear about your father, Neil. It sounds like it really worked out thanks to God. Glad he didn’t suffer (apparently) too much. I went through that with my mother 3 years ago at Christmas. Like your dad, she had stuff well organized and pretty much ready to go. Like you, the hardest cancelation should have been one of the easiest; her fall alert system. All they told me was to send it ti them. After a couple of months of still getting billed, I called and finally got through to a supervisor an got the silly thing shut down. Crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dashlane. Never heard of that, but am now looking into it. I want to do whatever I can to ease the burden on my children if the Lord takes me home before them. My dad died a few years ago, and then last year my mom did. They each owned very little, yet the after-death process was long and stressful.

    At least I have the comfort of knowing I will see my mom with the Lord. I doubt I will see my dad, but hey, only God knows what goes on in the hearts of humans even up till their final earthly moments.

    I look forward to meeting your family with Jesus. All who love Him are my family, too. Wbat a grand reunion and union it will be for eternity!

    Liked by 1 person

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