Happy first week of spring! How strangely ironic that I’m ushering in the crocuses and robins with this intense topic.
It’s been a hard week with Mom, but in case this title left you wondering, she didn’t die. The neurologist has been experimenting with her Parkinson’s drugs this week, trying to make them last longer in her system by playing a bit with the balance of slow-release and fast-acting Sinemet (the dopamine drug).
It sounded like a good plan to me – anything seemed better than Mom’s frantic dopamine crashes multiple times per day. But so far it seems to have actually made things worse, and Carol Jean’s feeling like an experimental guinea pig whose insides are being wrung out all day long.
Times like these I feel like a completely incompetent daughter, support person, and health power of attorney. I’m hoping she can return to her previous, albeit not so wonderful homeostasis ASAP, since it was at least predictably up and down, almost to the half hour.
Two of my older friends’ moms died this month, and hearing about their experience led me to re-approach the somewhat taboo and definitely uncomfortable subject of funeral planning. My mother did a bit of that before the onset of her dementia. I’m very clear that she wants to be cremated and buried in very rural Pennsylvania next to her father, where she already has a plot. “But the man with the papers who runs the graveyard might be dead by now,” she said several years ago.
Last I knew, she also couldn’t exactly remember what small town the graveyard is near. I suppose there might be somewhat to look up burial records from afar and find her dad. To be honest, I’ve been avoiding all this.
I get consumed enough trying to keep up with Mom’s present needs, and have made a habit of avoiding dealing with the things that might really make things easier when she dies and I’m overwhelmed, emotional, and exhausted with too much to plan and think about.
So although this week obviously isn’t the right time to have this possibly awkward conversation with my mother, I want to do it before her dementia gets much worse. Things might not all end up the way she envisions, but I at least want to have the conversation.
And now as I’m writing this, I’m asking myself, “Why?”
Why do I feel the need to include her in this process when she already has anxiety and depression issues, and fears death? Does it make any sense? Maybe not.
In any case, any of you who might be reading this are my witnesses that by the next time I post on this blog, I need to have taken at least one step to investigate this process, to ease a little stress in the future.
For instance, I was told that I can legally put aside some of Mom’s money now to pay for funeral expenses, before it all runs out. The lawyer who’s helping me now with the financial POA process advised that funeral insurance might be a better deal. She ran off a bunch of facts and figures over the phone, and I was left confused and intimidated, vowing to do my own research, which has yet to happen.
If any of you have gone forward with funeral planning, whether the financial, organizational, social, or any other aspects, I’d love to hear about your process and what resources you used. Since Mom isn’t religious and I don’t practice organized religion, I probably won’t have a minister or church community to guide me at the time of her death, like many people do.
Other things I have no idea about are how to arrange a cremation in our current state for a burial way over on the east coast, and a funeral that would be in a third state, where Mom lived most of her adult life and where all her friends are.
I want to at least have a rough plan to deal with some of these complicated matters.
My goal for March is to get the ball rolling at least a little on that plan. I hope to report back the next time I post with at least some progress on this, with the intention not only of helping myself with some procrastination and denial, but I’m also hoping that it helps educate others who might be avoiding this too, or who don’t know how any of this stuff works.
I have a list of resources to get me started in this area from a great book I read called “The Eldercare Planner, and once I investigate those, I’ll let you know what was helpful.
Until then, enjoy the flowers promising to poke up everywhere, any time now!