Thinking About Death

I think more about death now than I used to.

Not in a morbid way. More in a to do list kind of way.

I want to keep my junk drawers clean in case I die suddenly. And my closet. I want to be sure we don't have a bunch of unused stuff around the house. I mean, it was hard dealing with personal items at my dad's house and my in-laws' house. Cleaning out closets and junk drawers. Seeing all the little things they'd kept for no apparent reason. I don't want my kids to have to deal with so much stuff. So I've been cleaning out closets and junk drawers this past couple of years.

Our garage and workshop have only a few items we rarely use: camping equipment, extra bike wheels, etc. I try to keep it clean and the clutter to s minimum.

I think about my father-in-law's workbench. How neat it was. And the miscellaneous items left laying around. Left as if he'd just stepped away to grab lunch. But he never came back to finish.

I try to keep all the tools put away. And I try to finish a project rather than leave it undone. I don't want my kids to wonder what I was doing with the pliers and superglue left on the workbench. And I've gotten rid of much of the extra gardening tools, outdoor games, etc. that we don't use. To make it easier on my kids when they have to clean out our garage.

We have a gazillion books! I've been going through the bookshelves and taking books no one reads to the thrift store. Books that we love I'm keeping, even children's books. For the grandkids. But the books we bought for homeschooling which my kids didn't like? Those are going away. I don't want my kids to have to haul off boxes of books no one wants. And they don't sell for hardly anything at estate sales. So I'm giving those books away.

I've started on the kitchen cabinets. This is hard for me. China from my mom's house and from my grandmother. Blue bowls from Rita's. I know they won't mean much to my kids and we rarely use them, but I love them. So I'm keeping them. But I did get rid of the broken food processor and cheap fondu set we never actually used. As for all of our Starbucks mugs, well, Ron said the kids can fight over those.

But clothes and junk are not the hardest things to deal with when someone dies.

I think about the fact that I handle all the finances in our home. I'm a CPA. I'm home during most days. Ron works a demanding job. He travels and works odd hours. I can call on things like medical bills from an ambulance ride down the mountain. I know how much each bill usually is, and I recognize when a bill is out of line. I know when each bill is due. And I balance the checkbook. Would Ron be able to figure it all out without me?

I think about what would happen to this blog if I died suddenly. Would Ron or one of my kids post something or would the blog simply go silent? When I read about my blogger friend Linda having surgery next week, I wonder if her husband will let us know how she is. Of course he won't; she'll post a day or two after the surgery to let us all know she's healing.

But how can I learn what happened to other bloggers who just stopped writing? Are they okay? Or are they gone, like my son? No more Facebook posts. No more Pinterest pins. No more funny memes. What would happen to my social media accounts if I'm not here anymore?

What about my various email accounts? The gmail I use for business items like utilities and my website. The yahoo I use on sites that might send me too many advertisements after I order that gift for a friend or that cute shirt I wanted. The email account that came with our internet provider. The one I use for couponing. The one I actually look at and answer emails from. What if someone didn't know I was gone and sent an email? Would Ron know where to look? Would he answer them?

What about our car and life insurance? Would Ron know who to call to collect the insurance if something happened to me?

And maintenance on the cars, my tractor, various appliances. Does he know the last time I had the tractor engine worked on? Or who to call to help get the property mowed? He doesn't deal with repairs, so he wouldn't know who to have fix the dishwasher or water heater.

And so I've been working on a notebook.

I've begun to print off one quarterly statement for each of our various accounts: checking, savings, investments, flexible spending, retirement. Even though I manage our finances on-line, I can print one statement so he'll know who the account is with and the account number. I write the password and login for each on a sticky note.

I've printed off one month of each utility bill with the info he might need written on it. Cell phone, cable, water, etc. Some of these send paper bills; others send e-bills. I've noted on each whether to expect a statement in the mail or e-bill. I mark if the e-bill is paid automatically.

I've printed a list of various social media accounts I maintain with the passwords.

I've got a page with other information like who installed the sprinkler system and who helps me when a tree needs to be removed.

I'm planning to take pictures of items that are valuable or sentimental. Like art pieces from my mom or jewelry. I'll write about where they came from and why I care about them.

Some items will be designated to go to a specific person. Like the nativity set that had Yoda in it. Maggie has asked for it. It has no monetary value, but it matters to her.

I remember helping my stepmom after my dad died. And I remember helping take care of things after my sweet mother-in-law Rita died. Cancelling doctor appointments, turning off her phone, and closing bank accounts. I'm compiling the notebook because I want to make it as easy as I can for those left behind after I'm gone.

And we've been working on getting a new will.

Our children are all adults now, so we don't need to appointment a guardian. We have a more complicated financial situation than we used to, so we had to spell out how some assets would be liquidated. We had to specify how much, if any, went to give each child and grandchild. A copy of the will will be put in the notebook. And we've discussed it's contents with each of our children to avoid surprises.

We've also spoken with our financial advisor. Our retirement accounts and life insurance are handled by their office. They know who our lawyer is. They will be able to help our kids if necessary.

I sleep better knowing that I've done what I can to make things easier in the event that I die.

I know that when my body dies, I will immediately be in the presence of Christ. I will be Home.

I also know that dealing with your parent's death is hard. And emotional.

I want to help my children by taking care of what I can. It's one last act of love from their momma.

Read more by Kathleen B.Duncan on Facebook:

9 thoughts on “Thinking About Death

  1. Pingback: David Ray Duncan | kathleenbduncan

  2. I often read your blog, Kandie (sorry folks, I’m family), but rarely tell you how much I enjoy it. Your words are often a comfort to me and also a challenge. Keep up the good work.


    • I’m glad you are my family!

      I often think of how amazing you and Nancy are and what blessings you are to me. Caring for Rita with you two was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.


  3. When my only child died 7 yrs ago, that left me alone. As an only, I had buried both parents and Nick which left me with no immediate family. Personally I donated my body to IU Medical Center so when I die I will be whisked away…. However, I was so very blessed that a friend came to my side immediately after Nick’s death and began cleaning, piling up stuff, loading up truck after truck of ‘stuff’ I had no use for. My part was to sit mummified (in shock) at my computer and point to or answer ‘which pile?’ When the dust settled I was so blessed NOT to go through anything. That might sound cruel but I felt no compunction of sentimentality toward old wedding photographs, family pics, etc. First of all there was no one to share the “do you remember when…?” and second of all I knew someone was gonna have a mess when I was gone if the Lord had/has not returned before I die, and all is gonna burn so our worldly ‘treasures’ are worthless. I do treasure so seeing the beauty of God’s design around me cause that’s something my son and I shared. I still am blessed with lots of ‘dust catchers’ and ‘stuff’ given to me as gifts… so my home is full and running over but God is so good. He’s my best friend, my Daddy, physician, the air that I breathe. I’m at total peace now. AND totally trusting God that none of my precious friends will have to deal with my ‘stuff’ – we’ll all be going home together!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathleen, I haven’t experienced the loss of a child, but because of the work I do, I have become very aware of the things you mention here. I had a client who was faced with the overwhelming task of clearing out her parents’ house. Hoarders, they had kept an incredible amount of “stuff” they never used. Because they had the habit of sticking money, checks, stock returns and so forth between the pages of whatever book they were reading, my client had to go through every single thing. It took her over two years. She was angry, depressed, grieving, and exhausted.

    I vowed that I would never do that to my kids. Working on it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sorry she had to deal with that!

      My sweet mother-in-law knew she had limited time so cleaned out lots of things and gave much of it away. She only kept her favorites around her. It was a huge blessing to us after she was gone.

      Liked by 1 person

Please tell me what you think about this post.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s