Six Things I’ve Learned About Life From The Death Of My Aunt

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a bit now, but I had to get in the right frame of mind.

It’s been  a month since my aunt passed away from breast cancer; it was almost a four year life battle for her. I had the responsibility of spearheading the details plus putting all her affairs in final order and its been quite an experience. Through it all, I’ve learned and re-learned a few things. I’ve shared them below:

  1. Funerals are expensive; Good grief – People complain about the airline industry, but the funeral industry is ridiculously expensive. You pay for everything! As an example, the headstone can cost way more than the burial plot, just incredible. I’m sure the markup is just ridiculous. You can buy stuff online, but you need to work with your funeral director and cemetery administration. I did not do that as I could not be bothered. I am looking into getting a headstone online though.
    Despite all that, the Police escort (required if you have more than two cars) was really worth it and somewhat uplifting for all the attendees. $250 well spent! As an alternate, you can just tell everyone to meet at the cemetery. But how dull. We were whisked though traffic signals all the way to the cemetery. Those Police Officers really had it down; thanks.
    The tip here is to get the funeral director to explain each and every charge and ask if you can do with out or how can you economize on that. We had a very good funeral director so it went well. Ask for discounts as they do exists. Think of this as any other transaction. One thing too is you can plan for this event when you are alive. So look into insurance policies or pre-paying. Your relatives will thank you
  2. Harness life – I love life! I’ve been to 108 countries/territories so that’s a given. But you come to appreciate it more when someone you love dies. It’s then that you see how finite things are and come to the realization that someday that will be you. So get out there and do the things you’ve always wanted to do; make life happen! Nothing was more real, than having to gather all my aunt’s clothing and giving them to Goodwill. That was really painful.
  3. Life is a community – My aunts neighbors are stellar people; not to mention her close friends. They were there for me and the rest of the family every step of the way. Thank you! It’s great that my aunt as they say in Jamaica “lived good with people.” The lesson here is to be nice to the ones around you, yes, there will be disagreements as we are humans. But get over it and move on.
  4. You can’t do it alone – I think planning and executing a funeral is one of the most stressful thing I’ve ever done. On the surface I was Mr. Calm, but underneath, my mind kept racing so much so that my blood pressure shot up quite a bit after the main details were over. I cracked while reading a moving tribute from a family friend. Ah, life. I had a lot of support so that helped tremendously. Don’t be shy to reach out to your family and friends, they will help you.
  5. People are strange – We got lots of well wishes, but some made you wonder about the motives. Maybe its the grief that makes people act odd when someone passes away, but watch out for strange behavior of people. Don’t hold it against them though, just recognize that it may happen.
  6. You need a will or a similar document – Get your affairs in order immediately! With that I mean, assess your possessions and make plans on what should be done with them when you depart this life. State laws are interesting and banking laws are even worst. The bank can take all your loved ones have if you’ve not left proper directions. Get a power of attorney done, get a will done, get a life document done, give someone access to your accounts, get an executor, etc. If you own a car, house, stocks, bonds, etc. ensure that provisions are made as to how these should be divvied up after you pass on. Your family will be very thankful as they won’t have to deal with any issues. Your wishes will be clearly delineated and there will be no need for any drama.

So that’s it. Losing a loved one is not fun at all; but if you do a little planning while you are alive it will make it much easier for your loved ones who have to take care of all the details once you are gone. Looking back I have zero regrets about the situation. My aunt took care of a lot of details and as we communicated even on the day of her passing, I knew what to do and what were her wishes.

So life a good life, enjoy it, be good to people. As we get older we tend to attend more funerals, but that is life and one day we will attend our own. Until such time, live life to the fullest!

If only there was a life class on how to handle this situation. How has it been when you lost a loved one? If you can talk about it, please leave a comment below.

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