Faith, Family, Friends, Fellowship, Food, and Fun

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Funeral Fiasco

Have a plan, please have a plan. Make sure your loved ones have plans and ask for copies so you won't have to go searching for them if/when something happens.

Hearing the news that my mom died was horrible but finding out that there was absolutely no funeral plan was a nightmare! Throw in the fact that I had to do ALL the planning and take care of my 3 little ones and then you have a true blue basket case!

So, here is how my week went starting with April 10 when we heard the news about my mom. I was at school and my student did not come to class. For some reason, I decided not to call and remind her teacher to send her. It's a good thing because that's when my dad called me. He was hysterical. I could not understand one thing he said. Finally my SIL got on the phone and told me that my mom died. Wow, that was incomprehensible. What? Huh? My mom was gone forever without saying goodbye? No, that couldn't be, we were planning a trip up there the next day for my son's already delayed 2nd birthday party. Then my SIL started to tell me that her kids were still at school and did not know and ....wah wa wah wah wah. I told her I had to go. I called my principal first and she insisted that I not leave until she come and talk to me. I called Stephen and let him know that I would be home soon and we had to leave town in the next few hours. My principal and assistant principal came down to make sure I could drive myself home. They were wonderful, they told me not to worry about a thing at work.

I drove home at around 2:30 and started thinking about all that we had to do before we could leave town. I had to get into my mom's email to get her friends' phone numbers to notify them because my parents don't have the internet. Stephen had to burn pictures of my mom from the passed 5 years. We had to pack for all the kids but we didn't know how many days to pack for. Luckily we had just done most of the laundry. I had to call and tell my aunts and uncles, how was I going to tell them? My mom's cousin called from Ohio. It is so hard to pack and talk on the phone at the same time. We had to make sure we got everything for Caleb's birthday party.

We loaded up at 6:45, stopped at McDonald's for some dinner to-go, and were on the road at 7:00. We pulled into my parents' driveway at 10 and had to scramble to get the kids settled and into a bed somewhere.

Then it happened. We knew it would, but we hoped it wouldn't. Lauren asked where Grandma was. It broke our hearts. We reminded her how our dog Chase went to be with Jesus last year. Now I know there are mixed beliefs about pets going to Heaven but we're trying to explain things to a very smart 3 year old. So we told her that Grandma went to be with Jesus too and she immediately cried. She sobbed. We cried too and her daddy just held her.

Friday morning my dad started making calls to funeral homes and cemetaries. All the phones were ringing constantly. My aunt called to say she was on her way and she was stopping by the store so we asked her to pick up the kids' favorite foods. Aunt Patty to the rescue, she also brought a lot of neat toys for the kids. She started picking up and cleaning and I helped as much as I could. Each time my dad answered the phone, he broke into tears. I offered to call people for my dad but he insisted on doing it himself. He did the best he could with the church arrangements, but he is not Catholic so he didn't know the right questions to ask so I took over. Neighbors came by to drop off food, neighbors that I had never met. Aunt Ellen and Uncle John came and brought food and helped clean up a little. Aunt Michelle and Uncle Chris came next and one of my best friends, Mandy. The rest is all a blur. I had a pretty ugly fight with my dad that night. It was about being an organ donor. He was already upset because my mom wanted to be cremated.

Saturday morning it was Aunt Patty to the rescue again. She came to watch the kids so Stephen and I could take my dad to a funeral home. While we were there, Aunt Joanie and Uncle Paul came to relieve Aunt Patty. Oh, the kids were so happy to be given such attention. Then many, MANY people with good intentions called to ask me when we were having the rosary and when were we doing this and what about that? I was trying to finish decorating the cake for Caleb's party in less than 3 hours. We needed to have his party. We didn't get to the party site as early as I wanted to to set up but I knew that my wonderful friends and family understood and would help out. It was a good break from everything that was going on. As soon as we got home, the chaos started right back up again.

Sunday I got more calls from all my mom's friends telling me this had to be done a certain way and what about last rites? I called the church and the wonderful coordinator so lovingly asked me if I could go to the church immediately. She gave me a book on planning a Catholic funeral. She showed me the many different options and the music I needed to pick as well as the readings. She let me vent and told me nice ways to tell everyone else that I had it all under control. That night we had to load up the kids and go 30 miles to use a friend's computer to make the programs. They have a 4 year old and a one year old so you can imagine all the fun we were having trying to get funeral things done. We pushed our kids to the limit by keeping them out way passed their bedtime. We were only half done at 10:00 and we had a 30 minute drive ahead of us.

Monday I took my dad back to the funeral home to sign papers and I dropped off the dress I had picked for my mother to wear. The director asked me if I brought a picture so he would know how to do her make-up. That day I also needed to take the list of my music and reading choices to the church. The church is right next to Wal-Mart and I had to run to Wal-Mart for so many things including picture frames and paper for the programs. When I got there I realized I had forgotten the church list. Just when I didn't think I could handle any more, our realtor called to tell us we had an offer on our house. She was going to email the contract to us...but we had no internet! We counter-offered over the phone. That night it was back to Mandy and Shane's to finish the programs and print some pictures. Shane had already finished the programs- friends are wonderful! It was another late night with cranky kids up passed their bedtimes.

Tuesday I just wanted to be finished with all the plans and not have to go anywhere. Our realtor told us we had to print that contract, sign it, and fax it back. We drove to Stephen's mom's office which took about 20 minutes. It was lunchtime, gotta feed the kids. Once we got to his mom's office, he found out his website had expired without warning and he couldn't get on to his email. We called the realtor and had her send the documents to my email address. We made it back to my dad's way after naptime, we signed papers and Stephen went to Kroger to fax them away. We sure spent a lot of time on the phone with the realtor that day. Tuesday night my old next-door neighbor and her husband came over for dinner and just to visit. A little later Aunt Joanie, Uncle Paul, Christy, and Megan came by. My cousins helped me arrange the pictures of my mom into the collage frames I bought. That saved me a lot of time.

Wednesday Stephen's parents came to be with the kids while we got dressed for the funeral. The family viewing was at 12:30, friends viewing and rosary at 1:00, and the memorial mass was at 2:00. One of the people who was insisting on the rosary, wasn't even there! Unfortunately it was 4:30 when all was said and done so we had to stay another night.

So please make your own plan today and ask your parents about their wishes. We forgot to notify one of my mom's aunts. Ask your loved ones for a list of people you need to contact in the event of their untimely death. Go by your church and ask for a book on planning a funeral. It will save you hours and days of heartache!


Blair said...

Wow, Stephanie. You are amazing. I can't even imagine handling all that while mourning the sudden loss of my mother. Continued prayers for your family, especially for the moving/baptism fiasco!

Kathy's Korner said...

oh wow Stephanie!!! wow wow wow!!! Just reading all of this brought tears to my eyes. Your shoulders couldn't have gotten any broader then this. Handleing all that you did was amazing. I hope that you are able to take some time after all this moving to just be!

I will be taking your advice soon.

Wishing you peace!