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I’ve written four blog posts on grief and heaven since February 2nd. Was God preparing me for my mother’s passing April 4th?

Mom had prepared well for her death. Her communication regarding heroic measures and the disposition of her remains, and the Wills and Trust she and Dad prepared years ago have helped us, her children, make decisions in line with their desires.

Nonetheless, even with good preparation there’s a significant amount to be done after a death. During the COVID-19 challenges and Shelter in Place orders, how do we prepare a memorial service? And we grieve, family talks to each other by phone and FaceTime, and yet, that is nothing like the family being physically present together, telling stories that result in both laughter and tears, hugging each other, grieving together. I really want my family around me right now, but it’s not possible. And that hurts!

My brother watches the obituaries in their local paper each weekend. Most have a note saying something like “Memorial service information will follow as circumstances allow.”

Once again, this death has caused Don and me to look at our own preparations. What do we need to share with each other, or put in writing, in the event one of us should become incapacitated or die, as will happen at some point. How can we serve each other by making our wishes clearly and legally known, thereby taking some of the burden off those left behind?

hospital bed

These are some questions we have used to start the discussion about about our wishes in the event of critical illness or death.

  • If you are unable to make crucial medical decisions due to incapacitation, or your heart or breathing stop, do you want medical personnel to perform life-saving procedures? If not, do you have an Advanced Healthcare Directive or DNR (“Do Not Resuscitate”) form signed and on file with your physician(s)? (See
  • Where are the physical copies of your legal documents i.e. wills, trust documents, deed of trust for your home, automobile pink slips, and stock certificates? List banker(s), lawyer(s), financial consultant or CPA, insurance and stock brokers. For an overview of financial steps needed following a death, see
  • List bank accounts, credit cards, and locations. Where will you keep these confidential lists safe?  If you have a safe deposit box, where is the key? Is the other partner (or parent, sibling, spouse) listed as a designated signer on the bank’s form? Does he/she have a key? Should you list a non-family member in the event both spouses pass away at the same time?
  • Do you prefer burial or cremation? If burial, where? Can you pre-purchase the site? If cremation, where would you like your ashes spread or inurned?
  • If needed, teach each other how and when to pay bills and complete other tasks that may have been his or her responsibility before illness set in. For example, my mother had never filled the gas tank before Dad died. That was one of the hardest tasks for her.
  • Have you each specified in writing who you want to receive special personal items such as wedding rings, jewelry, art, tools, or furniture?
  • Have you discussed special wishes for music, favorite scriptures, pastor or priest you wish to perform your memorials, or other preferences for your services?
  • Where would you like pets to go after your death(s)? (My contract with the woman from whom I purchased my Cavalier King Charles Spaniels indicates that in the event of my husband’s and my deaths, Paigey will return to her. This ensures our dog will continue to be loved and well cared for, and that no family member or friend has to take in a pet they may not want.)

The good news – no, great news – is that a day is coming when …

…he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 25:8 NIV

I’m reminded of my father’s comment when he knew he was dying. Mom reminded him that God was preparing a place for him in heaven. A building contractor, Dad’s response was “I’d like to see the specs.”

Well, Mom and Dad, you no longer need to see the specs because you are THERE, dancing at the feet of the God and Savior you have loved throughout your lives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

John 14:1-4


  1. Karen O'Connor says:

    Thanks, Carol. Helpul reminders. I feel good that Charles and I took care of all this before he died. It helped me feel stable and in fine shape now that I’m alone.

    1. carolnl says:

      I am so glad you and Charles had taken care of all this Karen. We have taken care of much of it but need to pull it together for an easy reference to where documents are, etc. Work in progress.

  2. Jane Baker says:

    Ah Carol, my heart is with you.

    1. carolnl says:

      Thank you so much Jane.

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