It wasn't until Mom entered hospice in February that I really started thinking seriously about her final wishes. She's expressed her desire to be cremated to the family, to the hospice staff, and to just about everyone. I didn't realize just how difficult it would be to grant her that wish without something in writing from her. It's not exactly something that's easily discussed.
She wasn't doing very well several weeks ago. Her BP and HR were quite low and she was having a hard time breathing. She has end-stage COPD. I mentioned to her nurse that if she got to the point of being totally bedridden, I didn't know if I could take care of her. That set off alarms to the nurse and she called the social worker who came over and honestly gave me a total reality check.
Number One, if Mom were to go into a home, the home would take her SS check and force us to cash in her meager life insurance. The home and the state would get it, and would still come back to me to "defray" the costs which could average $7,000/month. Gulp.
Number Two, if Mom didn't write or sign a document, like an attachment to her Living Will, to state in writing that she wants to be cremated, then the funeral home would require 100% written consent from my siblings. Of course, they would also charge storage while awaiting the consent ... at an average of $65.00/day. And, even though I have full POA right now, I cannot pre-authorize without my siblings or hers. POA can only do so much. Gulp again. I facing a legal nightmare.
I really didn't want to approach Mom at this late stage in her life. My oldest brother was in total agreement and even said he would sign anything to see to her last wishes. My other brother, Poophead, hasn't even returned my phone calls for several months. Guess he doesn't want anything to do with us anymore. So, the alternative was to suck it up and approach Mom.
I found a wonderful funeral home who allowed me to pre-authorize and prepay and all they required was Mom's signature. Mom totally surprised when I talked to her. I simply told her it was something we neglected to do years ago and needed to clear up now while we could .. for much further down the road, of course. She was very glad and agreeable. So, the problem was totally with me. I was the one who was apprehensive ... not Mom.
The lovely lady from the FH came over and met Mom. Mom signed the consent and I handled the rest. Mom didn't want in on the rest of the paperwork, and that was fine. Since Mom didn't want anything elaborate, I was able to cough up the money, and now everything is settled. When her time comes, I will be able to grieve without the additional trauma of taking care of her final wishes. I've seen that happen before and it's horrible.
I also let the hospice nurse know that I was simply venting when I talked about if I could take care of Mom later on down the road. She understood, but she did need to let me know the score legally. Believe me, I understand now.
I guess what I'm getting at is that if anyone reading this hasn't helped their loved one(s) make final arrangement, please, please, do so. Also, check out all funeral homes in your area ... not just the most popular for their name. There are so many affordable options if you check them out and make arrangements in advance. Please don't wait until the end and then face what could be a legal and financial nightmare.
I know I have peace of mind now. I feel good that I have helped Mom so that her wishes will be met.