Forbes Magazine has a #LifeHacks piece called 4 Critical Things To Do Before Becoming A Caregiver. It is concise – almost a simple checklist of ways to prepare “General, Legal, Medical and Financial” documents and plans before becoming a care giver to a family member.
Ideally, discussion and preparation should go on while the family is in good health. Spouses should talk about plans as they age; extended families should talk things out with parents, grandparents or other aging loved ones. Families like ours, engaged in long term care of a special needs child, need to get ahead of these matters as well.
Unfortunately, care giving falls into many lives without time to prepare, as the result of a catastrophic illness or accident. This article will still serve as a valuable resource, even under difficult “catch up” conditions.
While the article does mention getting “Names and phone numbers of religious organization and points of contact,” we would amplify this to include discussion and documentation of funeral/burial wishes, whether religious or not. Don’t underestimate the wear and tear on care givers and other survivors;
- the unexpected cost of a funeral, often setting up stress between unexpected price and available budget, leading to guilt and family squabbling;
- the bombardment of questions – “What music at the service? Burial or cremation? Who is going to speak?” – that comes in right when survivors just want to be still, remember and grieve;
- the challenge of providing an event for a large number of people, many of them strangers to the survivors, on short notice;
- oh, so much more.
It is a great gift to the family to have talked out and written down the loved one’s wishes in advance. Most funeral homes and many churches have worksheets that ask all of the relevant questions, and having these available at the time of death takes a great deal of strain off of those dealing with loss.