In the few weeks since my father died, I have been thinking a lot about the gifts that came with his passing. There has been great sadness, but there also have been great blessings. I want to share them because they are blessings that others can have in difficult times of loss as well.
The Gift of Security
My parents had set up not only a will but a trust which meant that everything that was my dad’s automatically transferred over to my mother on his death.
That meant that she did not have to worry about her financial situation, deal with a lot of pesky paperwork, hiring an attorney, or petitioning a court at an extremely difficult time for her.
It is not hard or very expensive to set up a trust, and most wills and trust attorneys take credits cards or will set up a payment plan. Autism Dad and I have our appointment with our trust attorney set for January.
The Gift of Planning
I learned how valuable it was to pre-plan final arrangements. There are many questions that need to be answered, and having all of that sorted out before-hand is a great kindness to grieving loved ones.
The sister and I who had to travel out of state were also very grateful that our father was kept on a respirator long enough for us to be able to say good-bye. This was important closure that made his passing easier on us.
Autism Dad and I will include in our estate planning clear instructions as to our arrangements, and that it would be ok to keep us alive long enough for loved ones to arrive, to make it easier for our loved ones.
The Gift of Kindnesses
Our family has been the recipient of so many kindnesses, it has been extraordinary. The gifts of food, cards, and offers of assistance have been incredibly helpful.
One of the best gifts I saw was the friend of my mom’s who brought over paper plates, napkins, and plastic ware so that she did not have to keep washing dishes.
The other thing I have appreciated is that my mom has been saying “yes” to the offers of help. Instead of trying to be independent she has been smart and strong enough to say “yes, I need help,” asking for things like her crafty friend wrapping Christmas presents for her, and asking her outgoing friends to contact their social circles so my mom doesn’t have to.
Letting someone help is as valuable as offering help.
The Gift of No Regrets
I spoke to my Dad on the phone the morning before his stroke — for years we talked almost every day. When I looked back and asked myself what I would have done differently if I had known it was the last time we would speak, the answer was: nothing.
My father and I had a great relationship that we had worked hard on over the years. We loved and respected each other such that at the end there was no unfinished business, no lingering regrets, only love and memories.
I am so grateful for that.
The Gift of Life
My father was 79 when he passed and, had you asked me, I would have assumed that due to his age he would be unable to donate organs and other life-saving gifts from his passing.
I would have been wrong.
My mom authorized taking donations from my father, and it is our family’s great wish that they will be useful to someone, maybe even saving a life. Life from my father’s death would be the greatest gift of all.
Originally published on Autism Mom December 2015.