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.