Dealing with the loss of a family member

Last week, my stepfather passed away unexpectedly.  My mom is a wreck.  The grieving is compounded by a long standing financial quagmire, her mediocre health and the daunting propect of all those things that just need to be done day in and day out.  I am grateful I was able to “drop everything” and travel to the midwest to be here. 

Death is daunting not only for the profound loss it suddenly imposes on a routine established over many years of living together, but also for the day-to-day logistics of life. Who pays the bills?  Or, for that matter, what bills get paid?  Who do you call to inform them that someone has died?  What if you were dependent on the deceased person’s income?  How do you figure that out?  Do I need to hire an attorney?  Do we need to relocate the surviving spouse to a more convenient living situation?

I write this not so much to say what I’m going through but so you might ask the questions prior to the loss of a family member.  I suspect most of us who step in to “run the house” for awhile are ill prepared to do so.  At this point, I have no solid advice, or do’s and dont’s.  What I can say is this: talk to those close to you while they are still alive.  Try and walk through the scenario of their death.  Ask yourself if you know what you would do in the hours, days, weeks and months following their death.  

Imagine one of those lazy Saturday mornings where you’re wondering what you might want to do for fun over the weekend.  The phone rings and you see it’s mom calling and you think how its been a little while since you’ve talked to mom.  With that first hello, your life takes an unexpected turn down a road you may never have traveled.

Descent to a wild coast

Yesterday I had the opportunity to walk down to a piece of the Lost Coast to examine an uplifted marine terrace and record my oberservations.

Day 1 on the job

Today I reported to work for my first day on the job as area geologist for a certain agency in northern California.  All of a sudden, the landslides, floods, erosion, streamflows, earthquakes and other natural processes that are known to besiege this country from time to time are now my problem.  Well, not a ‘problem’ per se, but fall under my watch – so to speak.  It will be an immensely new challenge for me, and I am very excited and grateful to have been given the opportunity to develop many of my own programs across the landscape.  And what’s best about it all – is that it’s not all mine – but “ours” – I felt that.

After ten years at my previous job, today wasn’t easy for me.  There is the old building where I used to work at, and when I walked in the door at the beginning of a day, I was intimately familiar with the environment I entered.  Today, I walked through a completely new door, into a building I had only been in a handful of times, to an entirely new set of faces.  Some folks I already knew and that was helpful.  Of course, I walked into a place where everyone else knew the environment they were in – were intimately familiar with it.  What I found was a generally happy group of folks that were willing to help out, engage in small talk and welcome me aboard.  Some spoke to me personally – telling me how well everyone worked together and pitched in for the common goals – something that was perhaps straining at times at my old place of employment – or perhaps I had been there too long and had somehow become removed from it all.  I was impressed about how everyone seemed determined to do their jobs in a professional yet casual manner – not needing to be told what to do and doing it all with a seeming relaxed ease – At least that’s the day one impression.