The Griever’s To-Do List
Tom and Maria were married a little more than forty years when Tom suffered a severe stroke. The stroke changed him. It not only caused permanent physical impairment, but he became angry and unmanageable. As she struggled to manage him or tend to all of his needs, Maria was forced to get help. Life had become hard, especially emotionally. This wasn’t the future that they had planned for and worked so hard to build.
Maria had never made decisions like those she found herself facing – she had always had Tom. Her children wanted to help, but either couldn’t or wouldn’t, or a little of both. Her grief-stricken son was in the midst of his own crisis while trying to support his family, be there for his kid’s children, and maintain his career. Her daughter was knee-deep raising her children and helping to take care for her ill mother-n-law while dealing with her grief.
Little things seemed to pile a mile high – something was always breaking around the house or not working the way it used to. Maria needed a handy man…. she needed Tom.
Fortunately, Tom and Maria had sold their business just a few months before the stroke. There was a stockpile of cash, so Maria thought she should be okay. Though she wasn’t entirely sure. There was no ‘said’ retirement plan in place. She and Tom were both about to turn 65 and phone calls were pouring in from sales people about Medicare. The very type of thing Tom had always handled.
Clearly, Maria is and was a strong woman, so she knew that she would meet the challenge – but the learning curve would be steep.
Three years later Tom passed. It was bitter sweet. Unfortunately, Maria only thought her battle was over. The complexity their prior success created was just that – complex. Their estate was a disaster. There were assets all over the place—many she didn’t even know existed. Every day added another piece to the puzzle.
10,000 hours. Malcom Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. Maria knows how true a statement that is. The fire hose of an education she gained in those five or so years is one that she wouldn’t wish on anyone. Just imagine her thoughts….
Tom’s medical situation- I certainly don’t have an education in caring for a stroke victim… I have to learn the the types of healthcare he could receive or how to measure his progress. Where and how will he get the correct care? What about the cost?
How does the new insurance work? Oh boy… Medicare-Part A, B, D and C… there might as well be a Z… it is so confusing!
Medicare doesn’t pay for everything?! What?! Who does? I have to pay?
Medicaid – not an option for her – using private funding, THE COST!!!
Legal documents…we didn’t get there. He needs them now? I can’t even talk to Direct TV!
Do I need all of these bank accounts, what do I do for income- just use the cash from the business sale?
Or do I need to invest all of this cash? How do I do that? The world is too scary right now.
So now we have inflation again? 8.5%? I can’t earn that in a CD??
Social Security. When do I file… how… what about Tom?
Taxes, taxes and more taxes….
Didn’t know we owned that, so more tax…
What does that mean? How do I pay for that?
What would Tom want me to do? What do I want?
I just wish I had more time for my grandkids… Can I do Thanksgiving this year…it’s just too much…
Is it okay to get rid of some of Tom’s things?
What do I do with this farm equipment?
I backed into someone at the grocery store. What if they sue me? Who do I need to notify?
Tom’s name is on everything, not mine…. EEEEK!
Plan a funeral??? I just want to sleep.
I sure miss him.
Now what? Our wills haven’t been updated since our kids were young.
I need an attorney. Who?
Maybe my bookkeeper can help?
Estate tax problem?!?! We have paid enough in taxes. What does this mean?
Inventory, appraisals…that is just more money.
Am I going to be okay? Do I have enough money?
You may think that you don’t need a plan of any kind. You may be right. Perhaps you don’t – what about your survivors?
Planning is a gift. It is a gift of peace of mind and the ability to not just survive, but to thrive. Provide your family with the tools to take care of you and your wishes with confidence because you love them.