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  • FIRST POST
    • JWPopps
    • By JWPopps 11th Apr 18, 12:41 PM
    • 329Posts
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    JWPopps
    Supporting a grieving parent
    • #1
    • 11th Apr 18, 12:41 PM
    Supporting a grieving parent 11th Apr 18 at 12:41 PM
    Hello everyone,

    My stepmother sadly passed away over the weekend following a long illness. Even though we knew it would happen at some time, she deteriorated rather rapidly towards the end which means my poor dad is struggling to come to terms with everything.

    My stepbrothers and stepsister are doing a lot of the work relating to funeral plans etc, so I've offered to step in to support Dad with finances etc. He doesn't cope well with call centres at the best of times so I'm making all the phone calls on his behalf.

    Aside from this practical support which may take some time as it looks like every single bill apart from the mortgage was in my stepmother's name only, I was wondering if anyone knew of some resources to give me some ideas about how else to support my dad? He is my favourite human on the planet and I am desperately worried about his mental and physical health (he's only in his late 50s but often behaves like a much older man).

    I live in a different town but fortunately I work in the town my dad lives in. For the last few days I have stayed on his sofa but I can't do this for much longer as I have a 16 year old at home (my mum has been checking in on her while I've been away).

    My main concerns are: making sure my dad eats, and that it's not just Pot Noodles, that he doesn't feel isolated and alone (it is not an exaggeration to say that he has no friends, his wife was his social life) and that he doesn't end up so stressed that his health suffers.

    Thank you in advance for any advice; I've never had to do any of this kind of thing before and I am worried that once the funeral is over my stepfamily might drift away from my dad, although i hope this doesn't happen.
    Mortgage: 86,182.17
    Credit Card Debt: 1,702.42
    Loan Debt: 5,306.47
    Savings: 600.00


Page 1
    • SevenOfNine
    • By SevenOfNine 11th Apr 18, 2:00 PM
    • 1,371 Posts
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    SevenOfNine
    • #2
    • 11th Apr 18, 2:00 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Apr 18, 2:00 PM
    See what AgeUK can help with given he's in late 50's. https://www.ageuk.org.uk/ They may be able to supply a 'befriender' for a while later on, when you feel family may have drifted off.

    Much later, too soon now, perhaps look at your local U3a https://u3a.org.uk/ it's not all about studying, there are numerous hobby or social type things he might be encouraged to join in with (ours does painting, photography, organised walks & trips out, LOADS of things).

    Does he have enough money to fund the old style Meals on Wheels - sorry, don't know what it's called now. For a while you may have to stock his freezer with micro frozen meals, some of them are actually rather tasty, until he feels up to actually cooking.

    It won't take long to change the name on the bills, we did a lot of it on the phone, they didn't even want sight of the death cert! Have you used the 'tell us once' service - usually offered when the death is registered.
    Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.
    • Ms Chocaholic
    • By Ms Chocaholic 11th Apr 18, 5:39 PM
    • 9,459 Posts
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    Ms Chocaholic
    • #3
    • 11th Apr 18, 5:39 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Apr 18, 5:39 PM
    Could your dad come and stay with you for a few days.
    Thrifty Till 50 Then Spend Till The End

    You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 12th Apr 18, 2:47 AM
    • 38,874 Posts
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    Savvy_Sue
    • #4
    • 12th Apr 18, 2:47 AM
    • #4
    • 12th Apr 18, 2:47 AM
    Cruse? Not necessarily immediately, but they can be a great help.

    did your stepmum have support eg from a MacMillan nurse? They will continue to support after death, and so will some other organisations.
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself ...
    Current projects: Poppies, mohair cardigan pattern arrived and going strong!
    • myrnahaz
    • By myrnahaz 12th Apr 18, 8:04 AM
    • 1,097 Posts
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    myrnahaz
    • #5
    • 12th Apr 18, 8:04 AM
    • #5
    • 12th Apr 18, 8:04 AM
    Sorry to hear your sad news. When you register the death, the Registrar will give you the option to use their 'tell us once' service, whereby they will contact every organisation connected to Government office (passport, driving licence, benefits office, council tax etc etc) on your behalf.
    I know you still have to do the gas/electric etc yourself, but it does help.
    • JWPopps
    • By JWPopps 12th Apr 18, 9:53 AM
    • 329 Posts
    • 1,741 Thanks
    JWPopps
    • #6
    • 12th Apr 18, 9:53 AM
    • #6
    • 12th Apr 18, 9:53 AM
    Hello everyone,

    Thank you - all of that is really useful. I really appreciate these replies!

    SevenOfNine - I never even considered Age UK, that's a fantastic idea, thank you. I'm not sure my dad will want to get involved with hobbies etc, part of the problem is that he's a grumpy old so and so but I will have a look into it and see if there's anything I could gently nudge him towards later on, after things have calmed down.

    The thing with my dad is, he could easily survive in an apocalypse-style scenario as he's very inventive etc, but on a day to day basis dealing with the general public he isn't so good. To be honest, he's probably more resilient than I'm giving him credit for.

    Ms. Chocaholic - I don't think he would want to. The 16 year old I mentioned isn't mine, she stays with me via a charity so I have to consider that too, plus all the funeral arrangements etc need to be done in the town he lives in. But once the funeral is over that could be a possibility.

    SavvySue - both really useful suggestions, thank you. I'm not sure my dad would go in for counselling etc but I'll leave a Cruse leaflet somewhere he can find it in a few weeks in case. I didn't know MacMillan will continue to support for a while, Dad holds them in very high regard after all their help in the last few weeks so that's something to consider.

    myrnahaz - Thank you. The death was registered yesterday and my stepsister picked up some leaflets so I will find the Tell Us Once form.

    Honestly, thank you all very much. I'm going over tonight after work to help him with his finances, so I'm sure a few niggles will come out of the woodwork then.
    Mortgage: 86,182.17
    Credit Card Debt: 1,702.42
    Loan Debt: 5,306.47
    Savings: 600.00


    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 12th Apr 18, 10:48 AM
    • 4,393 Posts
    • 3,600 Thanks
    Yorkshireman99
    • #7
    • 12th Apr 18, 10:48 AM
    • #7
    • 12th Apr 18, 10:48 AM
    Hello everyone,

    Thank you - all of that is really useful. I really appreciate these replies!

    SevenOfNine - I never even considered Age UK, that's a fantastic idea, thank you. I'm not sure my dad will want to get involved with hobbies etc, part of the problem is that he's a grumpy old so and so but I will have a look into it and see if there's anything I could gently nudge him towards later on, after things have calmed down.

    The thing with my dad is, he could easily survive in an apocalypse-style scenario as he's very inventive etc, but on a day to day basis dealing with the general public he isn't so good. To be honest, he's probably more resilient than I'm giving him credit for.

    Ms. Chocaholic - I don't think he would want to. The 16 year old I mentioned isn't mine, she stays with me via a charity so I have to consider that too, plus all the funeral arrangements etc need to be done in the town he lives in. But once the funeral is over that could be a possibility.

    SavvySue - both really useful suggestions, thank you. I'm not sure my dad would go in for counselling etc but I'll leave a Cruse leaflet somewhere he can find it in a few weeks in case. I didn't know MacMillan will continue to support for a while, Dad holds them in very high regard after all their help in the last few weeks so that's something to consider.

    myrnahaz - Thank you. The death was registered yesterday and my stepsister picked up some leaflets so I will find the Tell Us Once form.

    Honestly, thank you all very much. I'm going over tonight after work to help him with his finances, so I'm sure a few niggles will come out of the woodwork then.
    Originally posted by JWPopps
    IMHO the trick is to take one day at a time and never be afraid to ask even if it seems trivial or simple. Lots of good advice freely given here. Most of us have been there, done it and got the T shirt!
    Last edited by Yorkshireman99; 12-04-2018 at 12:55 PM.
    • FabFifty
    • By FabFifty 12th Apr 18, 11:54 AM
    • 63 Posts
    • 95 Thanks
    FabFifty
    • #8
    • 12th Apr 18, 11:54 AM
    • #8
    • 12th Apr 18, 11:54 AM
    How to support your Dad? When my mother died a bereavement counsellor advised that different ages have different ways of coping and advised that older people want to talk more about the deceased than younger people might and I found this to be true. So just be there, either in person or on the end of the phone, to listen.
    • katiepoppycat
    • By katiepoppycat 12th Apr 18, 6:19 PM
    • 1,621 Posts
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    katiepoppycat
    • #9
    • 12th Apr 18, 6:19 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Apr 18, 6:19 PM
    I too have a grumpy old sod of a dad and we lost my mum 18 months ago. He'd had to step up and do alot of the houehold stuff so he was okay for that, but they were that couple who did EVERYTHING together and I'm still worried that he's a bit lonely. I stay with him one night a week and we take it turns to cook for each other and watch rubbish telly. He says the evenings are really lonely and just having someone else in the house is good. He joined the gym and goes 3x a week. I was hoping he'd make some actual friends but that hasn't happened - however, he does chat with everyone there which i think helps. He accepted some support from the local hospice but he's 70 and thinks that Rochdale electricians shouldn't really show their feelings. Initially he found it hard to talk about her but that has improved in the last few months. He struggles with anniversaries of significant dates so thats one to watch for. If he's up to it later, he might want to support Macmillan or something similar - they often appreciate befrienders and volunteer drivers. HTH.
    • JWPopps
    • By JWPopps 13th Apr 18, 10:29 AM
    • 329 Posts
    • 1,741 Thanks
    JWPopps
    Thank you everyone.

    So far I have: scanned a copy of the certificate so we have it if needed, made a note of all outgoings that were in my stepmother's name so I know who we need to call, cancelled her phone contract, sorted out the water bill, contacted her catalogues to let them know (she hadn't spent anything on them recently so they're all empty).

    We know when the funeral is so now I'm treading a bit of a balance relating to family politics about who to tell etc, and I've been going to my dad's for breakfast every morning and tea every night. I will have to go back to my actual home tonight for the first time since Sunday, but my stepbrother will be there tonight so he won't be in the house alone. Will go back tomorrow to make a spreadsheet for him to help him look at his finances - might actually use the MSE tools.

    I think I can do the same as you long term, katiepoppycat, and stay with him one night a week. Then if I also have dinner there another night or two, that's 3 nights out of every week he's not alone. I'm sure my stepsister will have dinner with him another night, and once things have calmed down there is some other family that would be happy to swing into action (it's just a bit sensitive before the funeral).

    Dad does really want to retire or go part time as he does a very physical job and he's wanted out for a long time. If he does manage it (finances permitting) I think I could persuade him to take up some volunteering or get him to do some handyman work for various friends and family as he's a) very good at it, b) enjoys it and c) it would give him something to do, while also forcing him to be sociable.

    I'm feeling a little less hopeless today, I just hope he's ok and not hiding it all from me.
    Mortgage: 86,182.17
    Credit Card Debt: 1,702.42
    Loan Debt: 5,306.47
    Savings: 600.00


    • SevenOfNine
    • By SevenOfNine 13th Apr 18, 11:22 AM
    • 1,371 Posts
    • 1,370 Thanks
    SevenOfNine
    I'd advise he remain working & make no major decisions for several months (if not longer), maybe save the difference between full & part-time salary (or full & no salary) to see how the finances will work, before committing himself.

    Socially it's not the early months you need to worry about, it will be a bit further down the line when others start thinking he's 'over it', 'recovered'..........like bereavement is some sort of illness! That is when family/friends/acquaintances tend to 'step back' & you can step in & help him find other options to occupy his spare time.

    You'll obviously remain committed, but don't be hurt or surprised if the step-children step back however good their relationship with your dad is.

    Funeral arrangements, yes politics & sadly greed tend to rear their ugly heads. Tread carefully, dad & stepmum's children need to be the most heavily involved. If he can't make decisions over something, however trivial, it's best if you consult with them. People can feel slighted over the tiniest of things - it's like walking a tightrope.

    Do only a couple of tasks at a time so as not to feel overwhelmed, keep dad & step-family involved.

    Good luck.
    Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.
    • badmemory
    • By badmemory 13th Apr 18, 2:20 PM
    • 1,902 Posts
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    badmemory
    Whilst my mother was older & socially very active, she did seem to find it helpful to know that someone would turn up at a named time on a named day who would be "emotionally" supportive.
    • JWPopps
    • By JWPopps 19th Apr 18, 4:15 PM
    • 329 Posts
    • 1,741 Thanks
    JWPopps
    Thank you everyone.

    SevenOfNine - you're completely right. I've had 'delicate' conversations with a couple of people who are my family and my dad's family but not my stepmum's family who want to be their for Dad but won't necessarily be welcome by my stepfamily. Luckily everyone seems to be being diplomatic - I wasn't sure they would be.

    I did get a little bit upset when my stepsister's husband said I shouldn't travel in the car with my dad to the funeral as it should only be my dad and stepmum's children. I didn't say anything though, I'll do whatever they suggest as I don't want to make any of it more difficult for anyone - I'm just worried my dad would have wanted me with them in case he's upset (he will be) and none of them will feel comfortable giving him a hug. Still, I can meet them at the service.

    I think we've more or less sorted the financial situation for the time being. Dad is going back to work in a couple of weeks - I think he's of the same mind that he needs to keep on a financially eve keel for a while.
    Mortgage: 86,182.17
    Credit Card Debt: 1,702.42
    Loan Debt: 5,306.47
    Savings: 600.00


    • Mojisola
    • By Mojisola 19th Apr 18, 4:18 PM
    • 29,604 Posts
    • 75,688 Thanks
    Mojisola
    I did get a little bit upset when my stepsister's husband said I shouldn't travel in the car with my dad to the funeral as it should only be my dad and stepmum's children.

    I didn't say anything though, I'll do whatever they suggest as I don't want to make any of it more difficult for anyone - I'm just worried my dad would have wanted me with them in case he's upset (he will be) and none of them will feel comfortable giving him a hug.
    Originally posted by JWPopps
    I think it should be your Dad's decision, not a stepsister's husband's.
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 19th Apr 18, 5:49 PM
    • 38,874 Posts
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    Savvy_Sue
    I think it should be your Dad's decision, not a stepsister's husband's.
    Originally posted by Mojisola
    Absolutely. Ask him what HE'D like and if anyone comments say that you were doing it at HIS request, not to upset them.
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself ...
    Current projects: Poppies, mohair cardigan pattern arrived and going strong!
    • Yorkshireman99
    • By Yorkshireman99 19th Apr 18, 6:13 PM
    • 4,393 Posts
    • 3,600 Thanks
    Yorkshireman99
    Absolutely. Ask him what HE'D like and if anyone comments say that you were doing it at HIS request, not to upset them.
    Originally posted by Savvy_Sue

    Very well said!
    • SevenOfNine
    • By SevenOfNine 20th Apr 18, 9:49 AM
    • 1,371 Posts
    • 1,370 Thanks
    SevenOfNine
    I think it should be your Dad's decision, not a stepsister's husband's.
    Originally posted by Mojisola
    Agree with that totally.

    There's consulting with family, being sensitive, diplomatic & ensuring they are completely included - then there's this 'stepsisters husband'! No, he can butt out.

    If your dad says he'd like you in the vehicle with him, than tell the daughter of step mum (this moron's partner) that you understand their wishes but you must be there for your dad if that is what he needs. Don't go through this man, kindly & compassionately go directly to the daughter (or one of the other children, no intermediaries).

    Frankly, if they don't want you in the family car with them but your dad does, then they can book one just for themselves.

    You know what's coming next don't you.......where this 'stepsisters husband' thinks you should sit in the crem/church! Again, be prepared & ask your dad. Including stepmum's children doesn't mean they get to dictate things to the detriment of your dad's wellbeing on the day.

    I hope it goes as well as it can, it always strikes me as odd how families behave at tragic times, seems impossible just to play nice if only for a few hours.
    Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.
    • JWPopps
    • By JWPopps 8th May 18, 3:01 PM
    • 329 Posts
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    JWPopps
    Hello everyone, thank you very much.

    In the end I got a taxi to the crematorium by myself on the morning, and I spent most of the day sitting by myself because there wasn't enough space for me to sit on the front row with my dad, and then afterwards obviously he had lots of people around him.

    I sort of took charge of the condolences book and took it around all the other guests, which I think was useful because people can be unsure what to put!

    It is sensitive, it was always going to be - I left home at 16 because I didn't always get on with my stepmum and didn't want to cause friction between her and my dad, so I don't blame her children for not knowing how/if to include me in things. I'm just really relieved they've been good to my dad, and all of them said that they consider him their dad too which I think is very much worth more than accidentally causing any drama would have been.

    My dad barely remembers the day anyway, luckily I don't think it mattered in the end where I was.

    I think we're about sorted with the finances now - the only thing I don't know how to resolve is how we find out who their home insurance was with, because Dad has no idea and I think my stepmum must have paid for it all upfront so there's no direct debit to track down.

    Dad went back to work today, but he definitely wants to find a way to at least cut down his hours. I'm quietly hoping he might stay there for a month or two (he gets on with his colleagues and doesn't really have other friends) before he makes any decisions.

    You've all been really helpful, thank you so much.
    Mortgage: 86,182.17
    Credit Card Debt: 1,702.42
    Loan Debt: 5,306.47
    Savings: 600.00


    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 8th May 18, 9:29 PM
    • 38,874 Posts
    • 35,698 Thanks
    Savvy_Sue
    glad it all went well.

    Insurance: how is she likely to have paid / arranged it? go back through cheque books / bank and credit card statements, search of emails etc ...
    Still knitting!
    Completed: 1 adult cardigan, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees,
    1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 2 hats 2 balaclavas for seamen, 1 balaclava for myself ...
    Current projects: Poppies, mohair cardigan pattern arrived and going strong!
    • JWPopps
    • By JWPopps 9th May 18, 1:54 PM
    • 329 Posts
    • 1,741 Thanks
    JWPopps
    glad it all went well.

    Insurance: how is she likely to have paid / arranged it? go back through cheque books / bank and credit card statements, search of emails etc ...
    Originally posted by Savvy_Sue
    Thanks - that's a good point, I suspect she will have made a telephone payment which means if I can find some of her older bank statements there might have been a transaction I can look for.
    Mortgage: 86,182.17
    Credit Card Debt: 1,702.42
    Loan Debt: 5,306.47
    Savings: 600.00


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