My father died a month ago and I flew to Los Angeles this weekend to help my mother during the grieving process.
She's doing very well.
The death of a spouse (or father) can be traumatic to everyone involved. The tasks that follow the funeral are numerous - wills/trusts are acted upon, accounts are closed/changed, credit cards are cancelled, insurance policies are claimed or revised, IRAs are transferred, and death certificates are circulated to every appropriate public and private organization that needs legal notification.
But there is much more to supporting the living than the financial and legal "to do" list.
The life tasks performed by two people must now be performed by one.
We all depend on friends, family, and life partners to support our activities in life. This weekend was about empowering my mother to manage my father's tasks.
What are the some of those responsibilities that seem trivial but require specialized knowledge?
The sprinkler system/irrigation controller needs to be managed, ensuring the gardens receive the right amount of water as weather changes.
The security system and smoke alarms/carbon dioxide detectors need battery changes.
Printers need toner and paper.
Internet routers and wireless devices need resetting.
Plumbing, electrical, and painting tasks need to be managed.
Light bulbs need changing (and some ceiling fixtures can be very challenging to access)
Entire digital lives need to be maintained, merged or erased.
Many items throughout the house need to be recycled, removed, or stored.
Cars need to be serviced or sold
This weekend was about supporting the living as the grieving process evolves into planning for the future.
My mother and I took numerous trips to Home Depot, worked on all the maintenance tasks that had accumulated over the past month, and prepared her to be the steward of the house/everything in it.
I brought her an iPad and an AirPrint enabled printer to improve her access to media and communications. We worked so closely on planning all aspects of her next stage of life that I'll have no problem supporting her via email, texts, and phone calls.
We both miss my father but know that we cannot bring him back. My mother's resilience and willingness to learn are truly inspiring. I'll be back to Los Angeles again in a few weeks when I lecture at Pri-Med in Anaheim, but I'm completely confident my mother will thrive in my absence.