Turns out decisions are a key feature of dealing with the death of a loved one. Quite frankly, it’s an endless stream of rapid fire questions, queries and instruction. When your brain has turned to mush and you are at your most vulnerable you are expected to come up with answers to questions you have never contemplated before.
The funeral home was a special agony of choices. Cremate or bury (turns out we had both put it in our wills we wanted to be buried – very useful), one plot or two? Seriously, I have to decide where I AM GOING TO BE BURIED! I’m not even sick!!!! Eventually I went for the double-decker option, they bury you on top of each other nowadays. So if I run away to the South of France and die a peaceful death there at 101 without the cash to get back to Port I’ll have a plot going cheap. Simon was a practical man as long as I recoup the cost he won’t mind who ends up on top of him.
Church? Let’s be clear here Simon wasn’t religious, but he would have put “Anglican” on the religion question on the Census. That proved a little difficult given we had never set foot in the Anglican Church in town. So I went with the Catholic (which I would put under religion in the Census). The girls are at a Catholic school and the School Chaplain is a lovely man. We were married in an Anglican Church because Simon loved it’s amazing pipe organ that could play during the service. His funeral was at the Catholic Church because it meant something to the girls (it also had a great computer set-up for the presentations). Marriage is a compromise people even in the “to death us do part” bit.
Flowers, went with Australian natives. The coffin, sent me over the edge, but got there in the end.
Then we got to music, Princess Child knew immediately she wanted Hunters and Collectors Holy Grail for the photo montage because it was the only one of Dad’s “old” songs she liked and the two of them used to sing it in the car. Throw Your Arms Around Me also by Hunters and Collectors was another favourite for both him and I so that was another easy one. Hippie Child’s friend sent her Sea of Love and she desperately wanted that to be the song she sang for him. He liked Van Morrison and I felt Into the Mystic was particularly apt. His other favourite musicians were INXS, Noiseworks, AC/DC, Cold Chisel, I couldn’t find anything suitable. Father James was being so accommodating but I think even he would have baulked at Highway to Hell as the farewell tune. I turned to Facebook and friends gave suggestions, I played them all to the girls and in the end they went with Time of Your Life by Green Day.
Is your head hurting yet?
We still had to pick readings, choose pall bearers, decide who was going to speak.
I’ve been especially kind to my daughters and have already written my eulogy for them – in What Will They Say About Me When I’m Dead but if they choose to go against my wishes they will have to come up with their own. I again turned to Facebook asking friends for their memories of Simon. Eventually I cobbled something together which I think gave a sense of his personality and our life together.
Since going through this mind-blowing experience I have discovered a great little book The Bottom Drawer Book – The After Death Action Plan by Lisa Herbert. It makes you think about what you want for when you die, with spaces to write in your wishes. It even has space for you to decide what you want done with your digital footprint when you are gone. Note to girls I want the blog and FB kept online – there is hours of work in these babies.
I’m going to fill Herbert’s book out for the girls because every decision I make now is one less they have to come up with when they are grief-stricken.
Of course after this roller coaster ride comes the paperwork.
So far I’ve needed:
- Superannuation documents
- Bank account statements
- Mortgage details
- Birth certificate for each child
- My birth certificate
- Simon’s birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Death certificate
- Credit details/statements for anything owing
You all need to read your life insurance/superannuation documents carefully. Turns out Simon’s life insurance halved when he turned 45, we should have been paying more attention.
Whatever amount you think you need to survive if you lose your partner, double it.
I’m still nowhere near done and have no idea what I’ll be asked for next but I’ll keep sharing here, so stay tuned! I’m going to get you guys organised (I know organisation advice from the chronically disorganised is a laugh but trust me we will all be sorted by the end of this I promise).