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Health Care
Feb 28, 2022

Everyone Should Know How to Prepare for the Death of a Parent

Sponsored Content provided by Kelly Erola - Chief Medical Officer, Lower Cape Fear LifeCare

It’s often the unspeakable level of grief: preparing for the death of a parent.

A parent’s death transforms every aspect of your world. Holidays such as Father’s Day or Mother’s Day become difficult and sorrowful. Photographs and family gatherings are now bittersweet.

If your parent is in hospice care, it’s important to be well-prepared for your loss. Therefore, we’d like to offer information about preparing for the future death of a parent and some healthy ways to cope with death.

One of the best resources is Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Responds, which provides a wealth of information, including a useful workbook.

Preparing for Death of a Parent Checklist

Say the Important Things
This is an imperative time for you to tell your parent that you love them or to resolve any misunderstandings. Sometimes a simple “I’m sorry” can make a world of difference in how you are able to cope with a parent’s death.
You don’t ever want to think, “I wish that I had told my parent…” It may help to make a list so you can be sure you’ve spoken about all the things you need to.

Get Your Support Network in Place
You probably already have a network of friends and relatives upon which you can depend. Use this time to reach out to them so they will understand how they can best help you. This may mean fixing meals for you or running errands. Often, those who want to help may need some guidance on how to serve you most effectively.

Spend Time Talking About Memories
This is the time to enjoy reminiscing about the wonderful time you had together. Your parent will appreciate this trip down memory lane and the fantastic memories will be appreciated.
And speaking of memories…

Save All The Memories You Can
Do you still have questions about your parent’s life? Maybe you want to know more about that famous—yet secret—family recipe. Consider recording these for future generations or for you to enjoy later.

Understand Funeral Arrangements
We understand this is a difficult topic to discuss, but it’s essential to get a good grasp of what your parent wants for their funeral. Knowing this ahead of time will give you a sense of relief when it is time for funeral planning. You’ll never have to wonder, “Is this what they would have wanted?” because you are sure of your decisions.

Prepare Yourself Financially
In many ways, this can be the most challenging aspect of preparing for the death of a parent. It’s important to be sure that their affairs are in order. Doing so will take a lot of unneeded stress from them. It’s important to start this planning now instead of waiting until after your parent has passed, when you will be dealing with the additional stress of funeral arrangements.
Don’t’ forget to consider these central aspects of financial planning:

  • Know where important documents are located. These may involve stocks, bonds or other similar items.
  • Who will be named executor of the estate? If you are, do you understand what is involved?
  • Have the names and contact information of your parent’s attorneys or financial advisors.
  • Make copies of key legal documents such as:
    • Wills
    • Trusts
    • Titles
    • Deeds
    • Insurance (including both long-term care and life insurance)
Are Your Parent’s Healthcare Wishes Explained?
Do you know what your parent would want if they weren’t able to make those decisions for themselves? This is why healthcare documents such as an Advance Directive or Healthcare Power of Attorney are so critical.

Healthy Ways to Cope with Death
Even if your parent is still in hospice care, there are still many essential things you need to know about the grieving process, as well as useful advice on how to cope.
As you and your parent are going through this difficult time, we suggest:
  • Avoid making any major life decisions.
  • Be gentle with yourself—remember that you do not have to be everything for everybody.
  • Consider counseling even before the death of your parent. A trained therapist will help you develop skills so you can cope more effectively when the time comes.
  • Get support from others, whether it be friends, family or clergy.
  • Take care of yourself. This includes getting plenty of sleep and eating healthy foods.
Lower Cape Fear LifeCare Supports You Throughout the Process of Preparing for the Death of a Parent
We serve not only our patients, but their families as well. That’s why we believe it is so important to offer spiritual as well as physical assistance. Our team not only includes doctors and nurses, but specifically trained chaplains, social workers and volunteers.

If your parent has a serious illness and you’re not sure if they’re a candidate for hospice care, simply complete these short questions to give you the answers you need.

See why we’ve consistently been praised for our high-quality hospice and palliative care.
 
Kelly Erola, MD, FAAHPM, FAAFP, is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Lower Cape Fear LifeCare, based in Wilmington, NC, where she has worked since 2017. Previously, she was Chief Medical Officer for Hospice Savannah, Inc. for 16 years and physician leader of the Steward Center for Palliative Care. Dr. Erola is board certified in hospice and palliative care medicine and has been involved full-time in palliative care since 2002.

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