Life After Death

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 11th Jun 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/146387hz/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Society & Issues

Without a plan, other people must clean up after you when you die. This last act of selfishness adds anger and disappointment to already grieving families.

Nobody wants to think about death

However, while no one wants to think about death, pre-planning and financially arranging for the disposal of your body will save your family debt and grief. Give your loved ones a folder or file with your passwords, bank accounts, retirement accounts. Do not tell them they can figure it out. They are already grieving and may not be able to think clearly. Do not add to their frustration. This is especially true for senior citizens or those in bad health, but anyone can die in a tragic accident. Parents who die leaving young children behind still have an obligation to provide for them. School children need to know you have thought about the worst thing that could happen and that they will not be left orphans. Do not assume that someone will step in or that someone else will step back. Have a plan. Put it in writing. Make sure you have communicated your wishes to someone who will responsibly carry out them out.

Why It Matters to Me

Between my father in law's funeral in another state last month, helping a friend settle her mother's affairs this month, and helping out after my grandmother's death last year, I feel like I'm a pro at cleaning up after dead people.

Before that, I had already added two members to my family in some convoluted events involving a bitter old lady, cancer, and a car crash. In addition, I lost a dear friend just a few years ago. She was barely 30, and died suddenly in her home.

My point is -- death is a part of my life.

Yet for each person's passing, I have not been the immediate next-of-kin. I had the opportunity to be detached enough to see how a lack of planning for the inevitable caused additional heartache for those left behind. And like moving, I have yet to see too much pre-planning and I've seen way too much junk left behind for others to clean up when they are too tired, too sad, and honestly grieving too much to do justice to the task. I know readers here value their loved ones and don't want to burden them. Death, though, especially for the uninitiated, is just very difficult to think about.

Death's Financial Burden

Funerals are expensive. Cremations (for those without religious objection) are the cheapest method of body disposal in most areas. It costs less to bury a body in a coffin in the ground than to use a crypt. It is not legal in many areas to bury a body in a backyard or to deposit human remains in the garbage. It is important to know the laws in your area.

Different funeral homes have different rates for their services. It may be hard to talk about, but since most places are online these days, it is a simple matter to download a price guide and compare costs. If money is tight, spend it on the living -- this is not the time to fulfil the dead person's whims and fantasies. Being frugal during funeral planning is not a sign of disrespect -- especially if survivors are paying for services out of pocket and unexpectedly. If you are planning and funding your own service, you will have more freedom to choose what you want.

Some people, for example, literally have to pay the piper unless s/he offered her/his services as a friend to the family:

If you want the sound without the expense, find a digital copy that can be played on computer, MP3, CD, etc. And you can guarantee no false notes!

Probate


" ... in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
—Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789


Even with a will, the estate of a dead person must go through probate. (There is an exception if all property is held in a trust, but this article will not address that issue, as I do not have personal experience with it and am aware that it is not without problems.) In probate, debts are settled and taxes are paid. A quick probate is six months; if people come forward to contest a will, probate can drag on for years or even decades.

An executor of an estate is a person either listed in the will or assigned by the court to oversee the probate and distribution of assets. In the example of my grandmother, when she chose my uncle as executor, she added his name to her bank account so he could use her account to pay for final expenses -- utility bills and so forth. Many members of my family found this pre-planned precaution to be very helpful.

Non Human Remains

Who wants your stuff when you die? Sure, everyone wants valuable goodies, but what about your clutter? Talk to people who might inherit while you are living. If two people want the same thing, solve it, compromise, and write it down. If no one wants an item, perhaps it is time to donate it, sell it, or pitch it. Otherwise you leave someone else holding the bag on lots of junk.

Estate sales

Estate sales are the name of yard, garage, and property sales of a deceased person's belongings. Usually the items inside a home (including furniture but not appliances) must be removed before the house can be sold.
Some people prefer to allow a professional, such as an estate salesman or auctioneer, handle the sorting and organizing of items to be sold. Others go it alone. There are other options, such as:
Consignment stores, especially for clothes
Craigslist, for bulky items or sets
eBay, for certain collectibles, quirky stuff that: may have value, photographs well, isn't cost-prohibitive to mail, and may bring in some dollars
BookScouter.net or a used book store might buy books in bulk or special collectible volumes -- using a smartphone to scan barcodes will let you know if the book has more value than typical yard sale yield.
Your local Facebook groups may have online auctions, yard sales, and other avenues by which to list items for sale and arrange local pick-up. Like Craigslist or eBay, proceed with caution, but the nice thing about FB is being able to click on a name and often learn a lot about a person, including any mutual friends you might have, which may ease your mind.

There will be stuff that does not sell and no one wants to claim. Big Brothers Big Sisters and Habitat for Humanity are two wonderful charities that will pick up donated items and resell them at their local stores. Local libraries will often accept books to resell. Goodwill and religious organizations are also popular charities who will receive donated items.

Children

Where will children go if both parents die -- like in an automobile accident? Parents don't want to scare children by talking about death, but few things are scarier than being a kid who doesn't know what is going to happen after parents have died.

Age is a factor in a child's level of involvement. A child under the age of five might not be given the same choices as a child who is in school. When I asked my son where he'd rather go:
to live with family in the area who did not have kids close in age, or
to live with family that had kids close in age but lived in another state;
I thought he would pick living with kids who were close to him in age. He's always talking about how he doesn't have siblings, and this would give him that chance. However, he told me that his school, his friends, and his family were in the area, so that's where he'd want to stay. Clearly, he'd been thinking about it. He asked if he could go visit the other relatives, and I told him that we had made arrangements for him to travel to whatever family he didn't live with. Then he hugged me for a long time.

End of the Road

I think loose ends after death are unavoidable -- perhaps as unavoidable as death itself. I told my son repeatedly that I was only asking because of all the deaths we had seen -- that NOTHING was going to happen to his dad or to me, and all this was just in case -- an emergency plan so that the emergency never happens. But accidents DO happen. Deaths occur. One day it will be me. And the people I care about have much more important things to do than paying off my debts and sifting through my stuff. They will be the life after death, and their world will keep on turning, just as it should.

Picture Credits

Will -- http://www.corbisimages.com/eimage/Corbis-NT5460729.jpg?size=67&uid=a3063601-cbbe-4518-8b6f-07999216b932

Costs -- http://funeralplansguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/funeral-cost-pic.jpg

Estate Sales -- http://www.bellingersmoving.net/estate-sale.jpg

Sad kids -- http://ramblingsfromtheleft.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/sad-children.jpg

Other images courtesy MorgueFile.com

Related Articles

Moving Memories, Moving Baggage


Tale of Two Houses


A Funny Thing Happened (fact)

A Funny Thing Happened (fiction)

Unheard Cries for Help

Death of Hate

Complete List of Articles by Phyl Campbell for Wikinut

Phyl Campbell webpage

Phyl Campbell's author page on Facebook

Tags

Acceptance, Anger, Baggage, Clutter, Debt, Depression, Estate Sale, Funeral, Garage Sale, Grief, Stages

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Lady Aiyanna
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Not afraid to die and if the Angels come for me before I wake I would tell them just make sure my child is safe well cared for and looked after and far away from the father because of the way he behaved with us till date.

You ready to murder me Phyll I know how to ring the bell in camp too you know....

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Certainly not ready to murder you or anyone, Lady A. To bury you legally is too expensive, and I look horrible in prison stripes or prison orange. Jumpsuits do absolutely nothing for my figure.
Additionally, you love your children and want the best for them. It is enough.
Thanks for the comment.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Well articulated Phyl - death is a reality of life and mostly takes us unawares. However much one plans there will still be loose ends for the rest to face.In Asian societies death is a taboo subject but they too are changing. The image of "sad kids" is very touching as also how your son reacted to your broaching the subject. The problem for the dead is solved forever and let us not leave others in distress due to our naivety - siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Thank you, Siva.

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author avatar vandana7
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Yeah...I agree. I have a set of disgusting relatives. So I had to request papa to draft his will so that relatives do not get access to me at any point of my life. He added in his will that they were cruel to me, whenever they came into contact with me. And he also wrote that I am the one who created his wealth, which is about 75 percent true. Given that, it would be difficult for relatives to drag me to court with probate. :) Out here, unmarried women and widows get saddled with relatives whose only qualification to the title relative may be genetic. Mine are gamblers and drunkards and forgerers and embezzlers as well.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Very sorry to hear that, V, but it is a very common statement. Death can bring out the worst kinds of greed in some people. Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar vandana7
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Can you elaborate on that please? I mean...he wrote that they were never there for me after I lost my mother and whenever they came into contact with me, they were cruel to me. Those are the words. He couldn't bring himself to write that they beat me up for monies and many other atrocities. Now you sure have me worried.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Jun 2014 (#)

If your father created a will as you have stated with an attorney legal in your area, I would not think you would have anything to worry about. It is just sad, in my opinion, that wills and lawyers are needed to protect family members from each other instead of protecting the family against outside claims. If your father made a will but has not given it to a lawyer, you may want to encourage him to do so for your safety.

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author avatar vandana7
13th Jun 2014 (#)

Oh he has done it with lawyers alright. Even witnesses are lawyers, and the will is registered with local authorities. I'd threatened to move out of home, if it was anything less. Not that he has any sentiments for his kith and kin, but he has great love for his image as a benevolent person. He'd been using me to send his folks out sending me messages after messages to get them out of our home. Effectively he gets to be good, and I become bad. Its a different issue that relatives beat me up for monies, they'd beaten him up as well for monies before. So it should have been his outlook to keep himself and me protected. Instead he was always the milder species in front of others and constantly nagging me to get rid of them at home. Social farces. lol Perhaps he realized he should be doing something good for me also for a change after all he was almost a broke when I took charge, with no retirement savings. I established some of that property on his name, primarily because if I died, and if relatives came in again, he should have more sources of income. It is sad that ultimately I had to issue ultimatums instead of it coming naturally from him. To that extent, yes, I am kind of disappointed with will.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Jun 2014 (#)

It is sad it has to come to that, but I am glad you are covered. I wish you peace for your soul and for your family. No one should live in fear of his or her loved ones.

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author avatar vandana7
13th Jun 2014 (#)

That is reassuring Phyl about me covered. :) I agree nobody should live in fear. But my life has gone in that. Actually some of the relatives were telling him that I would throw him out once he wrote the will, since I would know the content. As things stand, its more than 2 years since he wrote the will, and no ill-treatment from me. For what? I haven't got kids, right? Anyway, he seems to be somewhat convinced that they were wrong in asking him to hold back writing the will. lol. And house is peaceful too. Relatives who were asking him to not write any will have kind of gone back into their shell. I wish he had done it intelligently stood firm and said no...I don't trust you all to look after her so I am writing. That would have been a great victory. Instead, he was believing them...imagine after me having established him 75 percent, he was believing them. It hurt..very badly...because those folks took away all that was his, and all that was my moms too. Simply because this man has dominating nature and does not believe in listening to any advice from women at home. Wants to be goody goody. What did it get him, beatings to take away his retirement savings? And even his child being beaten? Yes...I can see signs of him realizing now.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
13th Jun 2014 (#)

Dealing with family is so tough. I am sorry you have to deal with that, but glad you have protections in place.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
12th Jun 2014 (#)

very important information herein Phyl...am busy disposing of stuff and have given my brother a list of my affairs and also his right to pull the plug if needs be...many many thanks for taking time to do this my friend......

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
12th Jun 2014 (#)

so sorry the LA is being so vicious...wow she is a fkin bitch for sure...

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author avatar C.D. Moore
12th Jun 2014 (#)

Sorry for your losses Phyl. Thanks for this important post.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Jun 2014 (#)

My dear Caro -- I actually didn't perceive this comment of Lady A's as vicious. Perhaps it was supposed to be. Perhaps my response will be seen as rude instead of the dark humor I meant. Not everyone can deal with death pragmatically. A coping mechanism of mine is dark humor. As such, I saw the dark humor in her comment as a reflection of me, and was not offended. I have seen bitchy; she'll either have to try harder or abandon the quest. Thanks for giving me space here to explain that dark humor. Not everyone understands or appreciates it. Many would have the knee-jerk reaction you did. Thank you for your kindness.

As for you and your brother, I am so glad that both of you are being forward thinking and I know it will serve you well when the time comes years and years from now.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Jun 2014 (#)

CD -- Aww, thanks! I know it was cathartic for me, and if I can help someone else, I will be very grateful. There are those who don't fear death. Actually, they are in a hurry to shuffle off this mortal coil and reunite with their Maker. When it is my time to go, I don't see fighting it too hard, but I have a duty here (to my son) and must discharge it faithfully for as long as I can. ;) Best wishes!

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author avatar Pollyal
12th Jun 2014 (#)

you opened up a new perspective before me... I still dont know how to talk about this..but I will think of something..thanks for the knock

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Jun 2014 (#)

I am truly grateful you would try based on my words and experience. Thank you.

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author avatar Kingwell
14th Jun 2014 (#)

When my first wife died suddenly and my three sons, though grown, were still young, it was difficult but we managed to get through it. I determined at the time that they would not have such problems when my turn came and I made some provisions. Your article has reminded me to check again and make sure that all important things are taken care of.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
14th Jun 2014 (#)

I'm sorry for your loss. Thanks for caring for your family. I wouldn't expect anything less from you.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
14th Jun 2014 (#)

Sorry for your losses, Phyl. Thank you for an important reminder. Everybody thinks they will live forever. But that time will come for all of us. It's best to be prepared and not to leave your loved ones with so many burdens.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks Connie. Much appreciated.

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author avatar writestuff
14th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks for this post. Informative and sage advice. HM Queen Elisabeth II, said: 'GRIEF IS THE PRICE WE PAY FOR LOVE.' I know this to be true and am trying to cope withe the pain of the recent death of my twinsister, Carole. Caring family and friends do indeed make a difference. Sweet Memories always ease the pains of separation. End of live planning is a must as it helps to ease many unnecessary burdens for our loved ones. Be well and embrace your sweet memories.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks, writestuff. I have followed you back!

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author avatar Musfiq us shaleheen
15th Jun 2014 (#)

It will kill all the pain
Even sun stops lighting to moon
Love is a shine as moonlit
Death is small and narrow
Life is enlighten even after death
So lovely the love was and is
In all my poems for you
When I am past -

this poem" it will live forever" is for you.
sorry for your loss... i think you will meet at haven..
Allah bless you.
--shaleheen

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Jun 2014 (#)

Many thanks, shaleheen. Peace be upon you.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
15th Jun 2014 (#)

I agree with what you said about your interaction on facebook..thought to tell you here...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
15th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks!

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
16th Jun 2014 (#)

We are here do it for free... almost.. Say, we need white long clothing which will cost around $13+ perfume and others$5 + Burial costs wash $25+ others $7= $50. Grave digging free+ No caskets+ no ceremony+no burial+no professional fee....

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
16th Jun 2014 (#)

And where is that, MD?

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
18th Jun 2014 (#)

Awesome and one of a kind post, cheers!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
18th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks, Fern.

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author avatar spirited
20th Jun 2014 (#)

well researched article Phyl. I feel most of us put this type of planning off thinking we will live forever.

Equating that type of thinking to selfishness, well I guess it's true.

Thanks Phyl for giving us a wake up call

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Jun 2014 (#)

Well, sometimes it is not selfish. Some people can't afford to live, much less die in their paycheck to paycheck existence. But the selfish label sticks when the funeral was elaborately planned but unfunded, wants were acquired but needs were not met, if the "stuff" was bought on credit, and so forth. Few people don't leave a mess when tbey die

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Jun 2014 (#)

they die, but clearly there is a difference between the unexpected death of a person with job, spouse, kids, and full life and the person who has outlived friends and spouse but still refuses to put affairs in order.
Anyway, thanks, Spirited, for your comment & my apologies for the mistakes I have made.with my thumbs on this phone! ;)

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author avatar Robin Reichert
25th Jun 2014 (#)

Great information in this article. I hope many will read it and heed your advice!
I, too, have lost MANY loved ones, but the loss of my dad at the age of 18 was the loss that had the greatest impact on my life. It's stressful enough losing a parent, but the total lack of planning, made dealing with his death FAR worse. The strain it placed on our entire family was so immense that it caused all of us to go our separate ways. Everything was left in disarray & no one seemed to know which end was up. So, PLEASE get your pre-planning done!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
27th Jun 2014 (#)

Robin, I am sorry your Dad died and things were left in disarray. Thanks for weighing in and sharing your thoughts.

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author avatar Robin Reichert
27th Jun 2014 (#)

Thanks, Phyl. I learned a lot of life lessons during that tough time in my life. I only hope to keep paying it forward so others can hopefully avoid these painful mistakes.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Jun 2014 (#)

You are certainly doing right by my reckoning!!

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author avatar snerfu
1st Jul 2014 (#)

It is sad to think of death Phyl -- it brings to mind that we should all pass one day. Very touching article.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Jul 2014 (#)

Thanks snerfu!

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author avatar L. R. Laverde-Hansen
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Very clear and highly informative article, Phyl! I hope I don't die anytime soon (who does), but it does behoove on to put the affairs in order. Thank you.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks, LR! So glad you and so many have found it helpful!

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author avatar Athlyn
16th Sep 2014 (#)

This is great, comprehensive info, Phyl. Something we all need to consider. I liked your point about "non-human" remains." We had to clean out a property after the death of elderly relatives and my word! They had saved absolutely everything! We had to hire a huge truck to come and take away load after load. The whole endeavor was a back-breaking time-consuming chore.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
17th Sep 2014 (#)

Thanks, Athlyn. I find there are two camps of people on this topic -- those who know exactly what I am talking about, and those who find me insensitive because they have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. I feel sorry for those in the latter camp, because the first time someone experiences a death like that it can hit super hard. I don't wish that on anyone, but it happens to most everyone.

The second wife of my father in law (whose death was one inspiration for this piece) was one of those people. She had been married and divorced, but hadn't ever lost anyone close to her. The death of her second husband was really difficult on her. She died six weeks after he did -- after I wrote this article. I didn't know her well. We'd only met a handful of times. But my nephew and nieces saw her more often. To them, she was Nana. So the loss of both grandparents in such a short time was hard on them. That's bad/sad enough.

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