Dealing with the infirmity or death of a parent is difficult. If this requires the dispersing his or her belongings, the pain may be even greater and the matter becomes worse because mom and dad may not have discussed their final plans and wishes with their children. At times, both male and female children either do not know how to handle the situation, or in a form of denial, which places additional pressure eventually on the female child or spouse. This breakdown or lack of communication is what causes so many problems for the boomer children after their parents pass away. Our parents were known as the “silent generation,” and it is up to us, the children, to openly and lovingly communicate with our parents while they can still mentally and physically offer us directions if we are to avoid the many pitfalls that await the heirs. But it must be done with love and compassion at all times.
Boomer children in general are often located far away from mom and dad and must travel extensively back and forth to handle the estate, take time off work and leave their own families to deal with it. Very often, the children fly into town and handle the estate in haste, and this is where problems occur. Many a treasure has been found in the trash as these children work in haste to return to their normal lives. For those families who have talked about end of life issues, and pre-planned for their passing, it becomes a much easier path for the loved ones left behind. For those who have not had any communication, the road will be quite challenging. What the boomer children need is a map that will offer them guidance to make sound decisions. This is what mom and dad should provide for them while they are still mentally and physically capable to assist their children through the daunting process.
It is awkward, to say the least, when we get to a place where mom and dad need our assistance and we are pushed into role reversal which we are not comfortable with. All our lives, they have parented us, and suddenly we are making decisions for them. I have often seen guilt and indecision follow a child when mom and dad have not prepared for themselves, because they are uncertain that the decisions they have made are the correct decisions.
There are two dynamics going on here: 1) The children don’t want to hear what mom and dad’s last wishes are and 2) Mom and Dad don’t want to discuss it. This is an exercise in futility. What if a loved one is suddenly in a position of not making decisions for themselves – especially life and death decisions? Would you know what your parents want? Boomers, listen to you parents. Parents, talk with your children. It’s an inevitable issue and your children need your guidance.
Have you discussed end of life issues with your parents? Was it as hard as you thought it would be or do you feel better now that you have discussed it?