I heard myself speak one of the saddest sentences. ‘My Dad died today’. For me, the world shifted a little more to the left of centre.
These four little words, punched holes into the psyches of everyone who heard me speak them.
To those that know me, words of comfort, reassurance and love were given generously.
From strangers, condolences, mostly genuine, reflecting their own loss or fear of such.
This momentous personal event, triggered new experiences, new conversations and new decisions.
Some quite difficult indeed. Dying is an expensive business, fraught with confrontation.
There is much to do, when someone dies. These necessary actions provided a welcome place to shelter from the relentless tide of deep sadness.
I have learned that Centrelink doesn’t need proof of death to cancel an aged care pension.
I was the nominee for my father, however I could have been acting out of spite, and no one would have been the wiser. The Australian Government is keen to remove anyone off the register of social need.
I am yet to discover what the British Government requires in terms of proof. My father received a small pension, on a quarterly basis.
I have also learned that ‘Power of Attorney’ is meaningless once someone dies. Access to my father’s bank account which I have been managing for 14 years, is no longer available.
I must request an interview, provide a death certificate and then the bank will arrange payment of funeral expenses and disperse the remaining funds as per the instructions of the executor of the will.
I understand the legal implications, however if you want to pay nursing care expenses, in a timely manner, you have to circumvent the system by setting future payments in place. That is before you inform the bank that your loved one has died.
As if you need this in the midst of deciding which casket or urn to select that best reflects the person that you loved, who you will never speak to again.
Choices regarding a minister, a private or public service, which music, how the deceased will be dressed, what kind of flowers, what printed matter and how many copies, what food and who will deliver the eulogy, are required to be made as soon as possible.
This is further more compounded for me, by the Easter holiday period, limited business hours, and travelling interstate and all that entails, to finalise my Dad’s earthly life.
In my case, it is I who is making all the decisions and it is I that will seal the event with words of meaning.
Then there is the matter of disposal of the remaining items of clothing, books and memorabilia. Most of this has been done in stages over the past three years. There are benefits to being a pragmatist.
I am not alone in having family that lives at distance. These are complicated times that we live in.
It is as though I have found myself in waist deep water. I search for the shallows, a rock to momentarily perch before the next current sweeps across knocking me back into the river of tears of my own making.
Perhaps I will have wrung out enough grief to remain dry to deliver the eulogy at our family’s private funeral.
I am grateful to my foresight in gathering family history in preparation. Trying to recall my parents wedding date in the flux of great emotional upheaval would have found me looking at the river from beneath the surface.