Worth repeating: Have that difficult conversation

9 July 2018

Three years ago, shortly after my mother passed away on June 17, 2015, I wrote a post about helpful it was that we had talked about what kind of arrangements she and my father would like after their deaths. The workbook we’d filled out was invaluable and since then my father and I have gone through it again to make sure it’s up to date. The issue is so important, I thought I’d share the post again today.

Helping loved ones plan for death

My mother, Betty Sue Brown Adams, passed away on June 17, 2015. She’d been living with Parkinson’s Disease for years and the end of her life was swift and peaceful. My father, brothers, and I took great comfort in that.

One other source of comfort was the pre-planning we did back in 2006, when my mother was 73 and relatively healthy. I had just taken a two-day estate organizing workshop from Jeanne Smith of Exit Stage Right. One day was on helping people organize their affairs prior to death. The other day was on helping people organize after the death of a loved one.

That workshop was in California and I headed straight up to Walla Walla, Washington, to visit my parents. I asked them to help me in my training by going through the pre-death organizing process. The conversations were actually pretty easy and, believe it or not, we had a little fun going through the Exit Strategies workbook that Jeanne created and sells.

Nine years later, that planning paid great dividends after my mother passed away. That very night, we pulled out the workbook and pored over the pages in which my mother had specified her desires for the details of her memorial service (down to the flowers and music), burial, and obituary.

Those pages were absolutely invaluable the day after my mother’s passing, when my father and I went to the funeral home. We did not have to speculate what my mother would have wanted. And thanks to the workbook, the obituary practically wrote itself.

The workbook also provides a handy checklist of things to do after a death, as well as people to inform.

My father and I have agreed to go through the workbook again and make sure his desires and other information (like his financial account information) are up to date.

I urge you to consider discussing these details with your loved ones. Jeanne’s workbook is a terrific tool, but any information you gather will be helpful. It can be a difficult discussion to have, but it’s much easier to have it while folks are healthy. Since my mom died, my dad has expressed over and over how grateful he is that we did it. (I overheard him on the phone brag to someone that they worked with a professional organizer to do this planning.)

The pre-planning we did made a difficult time much easier. It’s yet another way being organized can be beneficial.

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We have a book similar to what you talked about. We have a metal box that can hold files which I painted bright red. In it we have the book, directions of what to do with certain possessions,wills, passports and all important papers. Our son knows where it is. But in case of evacuation we can grab it and have everything that we need including important phone numbers and insurance information.

Trisha 07/14/2018 08:28 AM

That’s so smart to paint the box read and make it an emergency grab box. Thanks for sharing, Trisha!

Janine Adams 07/16/2018 04:18 PM

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About Janine

Janine Adams

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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