Life Transitions and Curve Balls
LIFE THROWS CURVE-BALLS; an unexpected death, a forced move, health issues, nursing homes, assisted living… We don’t know when or exactly where those balls will land or how we’ll deal with them until circumstances arise.
Transitioning is difficult and stressful – it’s wrestling with the unknown. Some of us are fortunate to have families that live in the same proximity and can assist, but sometimes family members live far away. Some of us don’t have families and we feel alone. Having an advocate or being an advocate for a loved one is the priceless key.
I have worked with quite a few families including my own, and have worked with individuals who have gone through expected and unexpected loss. Whether you are the one in transition or the one assisting in the transition of another, here are some tips.
THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE IS THIS: Have plans in advance – don’t wait until a crisis hits for the thought process to begin. Start talking to your Spouse, Parents, Children, Aunts, Uncles, Close Friends etc. now – confront the discomfort sooner than later and have those talks. There are so many details, so many things that you won’t think of on your own, so many things that you cannot possibly foresee unless you start TALKING.
Many of us have had to sift through a loved ones belongings after their death. Things may have been left in utter disarray and we are the ones that have to sort through all the files, boxes, and years of unattended stored belongings. If you are anything like me, I don’t want to leave that kind of burden on my family. Start purging documents and items now. So many people hang on to their documents and belongings for decades; things they’ll never look at again – it’s not unusual. Go through your files and start shredding and throwing things out. Get your paperwork in order. This is not a pleasant task or something that has to happen overnight but it should be an ongoing process. Doing this kind of work in advance will keep you and your family unencumbered; having papers and clutter cleared in advance will help to relieve some of your sadness, burden and stress. An organizer can help with these things.
Ask for help from an estate management professional, attorney, fiduciary* when needed.
In advance, think about and identify people that can be there to help in these times of need, loneliness and despair to make sure there is food, nutrition, and company to talk to and walk with. Get outside and breathe fresh air. I visited my Aunt Joyce (who has dementia) last week at her nursing home. I wheeled her outside and saw a complete transformation on her face, and she said to me “… look, the Pansies are all smiling…” That was the worth the price of admission.
Paralysis can be deadly and is often the state of mind of a person in life crisis such as the death of a spouse or family member.
If you have lost a spouse, are needing help with the aging process, or have aging family members or friends that live in Santa Barbara County and need assistance, you have arrived at your destination.
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* A California Licensed Fiduciary is a person or institution given the power to act on behalf of another in situations that require great trust, honesty and loyalty. Fiduciaries you may already be familiar with include accountants, attorneys, bankers, business advisors, financial advisors, mortgage brokers and real estate agents. These individuals are hired to act in a clients best interest and must set aside their own personal motives in favor of your goals.
This is really great and really practical information Cindy. This is the kind of post that everyone should read because it’s a situation that we will all be faced with some day. Thank you very much. I’ll definitely be sharing this one.
This is great practical information that we all should be familiar with because life’s curve balls are so unexpected. It helps to know what kind of steps and you should be taking and to have this kind of guidance. Thank you.
Great post, Cindy! I hope it reaches and helps families who need guidance during such tough times.
This is a very informational post. I have to admit there are some points on this list that I lack or need to improve. Sometimes we try not to think about such things because they are an unpleasant topic to dwell on. Alas, these need to be brought to light. The weight of this blog post is tremendous. Thank you for sharing Cindy.
Yes, not wanting to pay attention to something may be a sign that it’s the number one thing that needs attention.
Great advice! Few of us like to dwell on the bad stuff. but preparing for it can make a world of difference. Life transitions and curve balls are bound to happen, put some preparedness can go a long way.
i loved this article Cindy. I did not know you are a fiduciary. that is a tremendously loving and helpful
Your Aunt is beautiful, I think you look like her! I love her comment about the pansies, I’ve always thought they were smiling too! Thank you for the advice, it is important to be prepared for all of life transitions.
Thanks for the compliment Linda. Please feel free to share with friends.
I forgot to say how powerful the photos of Aunt Joyce are. Thank you.
Wonderful post, Cindy. My husband and I have talked (and talked) about these matters. A little bit of documenting our wishes has happened. The finish line is far, but we have started the journey. That feels good.
Thanks Amy. I’m so glad to hear you are processing these things. There are sooo many things that come up and so many questions and issues I’ve had since the journey began with my Aunt. I started to see she wasn’t remembering things and I was in CA and she was in Florida – no family down there. I moved her from Delray Beach to Philly so she could be near family that would visit and ‘be there’ for her.
That’s wonderful Cindy. Your parents and Aunt Joyce really must have modeled some outstanding behavior for you. My parents died a few years ago, and I must say they made things as easy as humanly possible for me and my siblings.