Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Paperwork of Death

It has only been 2 weeks, 3 days, and 5 hours since Richard died. It feels like it was yesterday. It feels like it was months ago. Doesn't that sound crazy? But that is how it feels when the sun has quit shining. When the lights go out. When the door opens and joy leaves and slams the door after. I feel exhausted. I feel drained. I am sad. But life all around me continues to go on.

I wonder if people are getting tired of my grief. And yet, I don't care. Because when you have loved someone for more than 36 years and you lose them, it takes awhile to get over it. It isn't like losing a mother or a father. I have lost both. So, I know. I was very young when I lost my dad and quite old when I lost my mom. Well, I was 54. Not really old. But quite a bit older. I lost a baby, after a full-term pregnancy to stillbirth. Not the same. Losing the man that I lived with for the past 36 years is very different. And I will write about it until it either doesn't hurt as much anymore. Or I quit writing about it! 

The things that are required of a widow following the death of her spouse, lover, best friend and soul-mate is over-whelming to say the least. The fact that I had to leave my house early the very next morning and go to the mortuary to plan his services just about took my breath away. I wonder why mortuaries don't come to people's homes. Wouldn't that make it much easier? And by the way, I have only used that term widow twice. And it hurts each time. Thank God I had Justin to go with me. And lean on. And that, for the most part, I knew exactly what Richard wanted. Because we had talked about it over the past 5-6 years. I suggest you start those conversations with your loved ones, if you haven't. It made that part of this journey so much easier...knowing what Richard wanted.

Then came the phone conversation with Fidelity. They are the financial management team that handled Richard's pension, medical insurance, and life insurance. They were very, very nice. And solemn. And offered condolences. But the fact that I had to spend almost 40 minutes on the phone giving them information that I can't believe they didn't already have. Like his social security number. And his birth date. And mine. For goodness sake you have been sending him retirement checks for 14 years. I know you have all this information. And yet nothing can be done until they have a death certificate. And like anything that happens with a government organization, that takes time. Over two weeks for death certificates. While all my finances are on hold until then.

Today I had to go to the Social Security office. Even though I spent 30 minutes on the phone with them yesterday, giving them all the same information that I am sure they already had listed right there on the computer sitting in front of her. But she was very nice. And offered condolences. And then she told me I would need to bring my marriage license (the original, not a copy) and a voided check to the local office so they could process my claim. But they DON'T need a death certificate because they already knew he was dead. The mortuary let them know. Why can't the mortuary let everyone know??

I get to the Social Security office and the waiting room is packed full. Of elderly people. Of disabled people. Of screaming and crying kids. And a non-smiling security guard told me I had to check in through the touch screen system and then take a seat. I told him I was only there to drop off a couple of papers. That I had already gone through all the claim forms with a lady called Misty yesterday. He said "doesn't matter. You have to check in and wait your turn." I couldn't wait. I was on my way to pick up Darian and Harley from debate camp. So I had to go back. I checked in. We sat and waited. And waited. And waited. And when they called my number I walked up to the window and handled the nice gentleman my marriage license and a voided check. He made a copy and we left. Wow! This system could use someone to streamline things.

Then I get home and have a letter in the mail from the bank. I have to take a death certificate (and these by the way are $15.00 a copy) in tomorrow and have Richard's name removed from the checking account.

This makes me smile
Then at another time in the future I have to have his name removed from the savings account that we have at another bank. And I will have to take a trip to the courthouse to change the house over to 'just my name.' And then there is the car, and the household utilities, and the insurances on house and car. And on and on and on.....

And all of this has to be done IMMEDIATELY or you can't go on with your life. 

And by the way, I am not interested in going on with my life. I want to grieve. I want to feel sad. I miss him.



   

24 comments:

  1. Paula, you take all the time you need to grieve even if it takes years. No one should be "tired" of your grief or say anything about it to you. I had a friend who lost her dad (which is nothing like losing a spouse) but 2 weeks afterwards she was in the store talking to a friend about her feelings and her friend said "you aren't over this yet?" I'm here listening (well actually reading) as you express your grief. You take all the time you need and don't let anyone tell you that you need to "move on."

    We haven't actually formalized it, but both hubby and me have expressed what we want as far as final wishes. I loved what my mom did; she pre-planned and pre-paid for her funeral. All my sister had to do after my mom passed was to call the mortuary who handled everything; all she had to do was order the spray of flowers that went on top of the casket. It was such a contrast to when my in laws passed who had nothing in place and my hubby and brother-in-law were scrambling around trying to figure out what they might have wanted. It is hard to have these tough conversations about end of life issues, etc., but definitely worth it for the one left behind.

    It would be really nice if there was one centralized place where you could report someone's passing and they take care of all that needs to be done with bank accounts, etc. Its sad too that a death certificate has to cost so much too, geesh how much is the paper worth that it is printed on? I also remember when obituaries used to be free in newspapers, now the price they charge for them (at least here in Southern California) is ridiculous.

    ((((Paula)))))

    betty

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  2. Thank you for your beautiful and understanding words Betty . My true friend are my blogging buddies

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  3. You go ahead and grieve, my friend....don't apologize for it and don't feel guilty or bad about it. You deserve it. I know that they could make things easier on widows but I am not sure they should. At least this forces you to get out and do something other than locking yourself in the house and becoming a hermit which many of us tend to do when we are hurting. Hang in there and know we love you.

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    1. I would rather stay in the house and GRIEVE.....at least for a few weeks. I have two teenagers to force me out of the house soon enough! Thanks Wendy. I love you guys too

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  4. Oh and by the way....I love that photo of Richard!!!

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    1. Me too....Harley has it in a frame in her room that says...."Grumpy bear, Always making faces!" Love it

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  5. This is the part that gives me anxiety. So much to do during the worst time of your entire life.

    The quality of your relationship with your spouse has definitely made this the worst parting of your life. There is no other death that would be harder for you. Not everyone has that kind of marriage. You certainly have been blessed. The quality of my relationship with my adult children far surpasses any other relationship in my life. The wound of their passing for me would unimaginable. I guess we all have some who would suck the air of the world out of our lives if they died.

    Do not think twice about the effect of your grief on your readers and sharing it on this blog. We were with you through the tough caregiving part of your journey and we will stay with you through the aftermath. That is what friends do. And those who can't do not need to show up.

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    1. You said it well Elaine. The difference with spouses and children though, in my mind, you don't have to go out and do all that damn paperwork.

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  6. I said "aftermath" in my previous comment. That word was not correct as it implies something that will end after completion. So much of this will never be "complete." You will be so changed that it is more of an evolution to a state of being that you would never ever have chosen.

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    1. Once again, words from a wise woman!

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  7. I can understand you feeling of not wanting life to go on. Although I haven't lost my husband I remember when my mom passed away how much I wanted everything to just stop, because I didn't want life to go on without her. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  8. I remember my mom suffering with this with my daddy and then me trying to handle it all with her second husband because she was no longer able to drive or sign anything or remember what needs to be done. It's awful and so tedious and yes, it's expensive. And just when you think it's done, you'll need to do something else. ARGH! Keep writing - we want to know what's going on and how you are doing and feeling and I know I expect your honest, raw words. Whatever it takes to keep going.

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    1. Thank you Lisa. I am glad that you still want to come and share my time with me

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  9. Wow. Reading Betty's comment about her friend's experience, I'm offended that anyone would dare to suggest a 'time-line' for grief. I'm guessing that person has never allowed himself/herself to really love, love another. That's something no-one can take away from you, Paula. You and Richard were two of the lucky ones.
    I'd no idea the processes were so convoluted! In fact, how fitting that you shared this cute, cute picture of Richard with his tongue sticking out. That one's for the bureaucrats!

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    1. That is exactly why I used that picture Myra.....

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  10. The picture at the bottom of your post is so fitting--sticking a tongue out at the runaround you're going through.

    And I've had these conversations with my parents over the past few years so we can all be clear on each other's wishes. A very good reminder, though, to check in with each other again.

    Sending love your way!

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    1. Thank you Kwiz. Yes, he would not like that I was going through this. He liked to protect me from everything!

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  11. I can totally relate to this! We don't really get to grieve right away, do we? We are too busy taking care of the business and paperwork of death. I hope you are surrounded with folks who will not tell you to move on or to hurry your grief or be uncomfortable with your grief. Folks who have those qualities are real gifts!

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    1. Thanks GN....I am probably my worst critic when it comes to this. I just don't want to burden anyone with my grief. It is so personal

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  12. Betty's comment certainly is an inspiration, but reading about what you are going through there seems to be many unavoidable things that have to get done. I am so sorry you have had to go through so much. Please take care.

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    1. All of you bring me inspiration Inger. There is just so much to do and it has to be done quickly for my financial life to go on...

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  13. I'm repaying your visit to my site, Rantings and Ravings of an Insane Writer, for the A-Z Roadtrip. I've been sidetracked from reading current items to explore these areas where I am learning so much. I'm sorry you've had to lose Richard and deal with the aftermath. I know you're coming up on a year, but I imagine it still hurts -- and will for some time.

    These "details" of life are looming large for me. Presumably not immediately, but the process weighs heavily as my parents and husband are all old enough that this will be something I will be dealing with sooner than I would like, so I'm trying to educate myself as a buffer. It probably won't work, and, if I'm am fortunate, I won't have to worry for nearly twenty years (husband is 78 and parents are 74). Something tells to to savor life now and worry later. Looking for the balance and confidence being prepared brings.

    I've added your to my RSS feed in TheOldReader, so I can keep up with what's happening with you now.

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    1. Thanks for visiting Jean. It didn't help with the grief to be prepared. But I was able to get through some of the rest just because I could do it without thinking very much. Hope you'll visit again!

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