I have entered a new phase in life where many of my peers are caring for sick parents or planning funerals for parents who have died.
I currently have at least six friends caring for parents with cancer or other terrible diseases. I have one with a parent in the ICU dealing with cancer but also a stroke. He just found out he had cancer only a few weeks before the stroke.
Another friend just spent the week very thoughtfully planning her mother’s funeral. The care that she took creating a wonderful celebration of her mother’s life while so sad is just amazing too me. I don’t want to have to make those kinds of decisions after I’ve just lost a parent.
I don’t want to be a downer to my parents who are currently pretty darn healthy, but I don’t want to be put in a position to guess what they want.
I have called them several times over the last two weeks to request that they write down some plans. My brother and I need to know what they want done at a hospital. Do they want the ventilator or feeding tube? How much intervention do they want? (I know they should have a health care proxy and a living will to legally state what care they want but I don’t think they do.)
The other think I want is for them to write out is how they want their funerals. What songs or readings do they want during the service? Do they want the viewing and service at their church here in Atlanta but be buried in Savannah? Do I have to ship their bodies or can I cremate them? Who do they want to be buried by in Savannah? (There are lots of Walsh options and you don’t want to stick them forever in the wrong place.)
My dad says he doesn’t care about all the stuff but I know my mother does. (I’ll pay for it later if it’s done wrong. I have an image of me passing through the pearly gates, not being welcomed but criticized: “You played that song at my funeral.”)
It’s hard to press them from 2,000 miles away. If I were there, I would make them a meal and pull out a legal pad and make them figure things out. That’s tough to do over the phone.
Are you currently caring for an ill parent? Do they have a living will or health care proxy? Have they sat down with you and told her want they want? Do you think parents should help plan their funerals before they get sick or is that just depressing?