This first, no that first …

I haven’t posted lately because I’ve been spinning out of control.  I have reached a point where the things I have to do have simply overwhelmed me.  They have all become important, equally important, in my mind.  Consequently, I haven’t been able to determine what to do first, what should be done first.  This is the reality of functioning on my own.

Throughout the more than 30 years of my marriage I was the primary decision-maker and accountant for the family. I made the decisions and did the follow through.  So why then, do I feel like I am drowning in the sea of responsibility?

I realize now, that although I may have made the decisions, there almost always was some sort of discussion between Kevin and me, at least for big decisions.  Kevin always had an opinion (sometimes completely off the wall) and he was never bashful about expressing it.  As a father and husband, Kevin didn’t fret about the small stuff; as long as we were safe, fed, happy and having fun, that was all that mattered.  His role in our marriage, he would often state, was to socialize and protect and mine was everything else (as long as he didn’t disagree with it).  He had little tolerance for inaction and indecisiveness, any decision was better than no decision.

After years of this type of conditioning I have become quite used to ploughing through the things that have to be done. However, it’s different with this, with settling an estate.  It’s not something that is easy or straightforward, it’s emotional and heartbreaking and relentless – there are so many things that have to be done: burial arrangements; transfers of title; changing my own Will; dealing with the various utility companies, credit card companies; and all sorts of other little one-offs that come up as the days go by.

Things have to be done, yes, but not right away.  I was reminded of this again today by my lawyer and by my sister-in-law.  I’m spinning but it’s because I’ve wound myself too tight.  I am my own worst enemy, trying to do everything and get everything settled in record time.  There’s no rush and this is something that I need to recognize for my own peace of mind, since the only one pressuring me is me. Old habits die hard.

Realities after a death

There are many things that need to be done after someone dies. The funeral home was quite helpful working with me to fill out some of the government forms, and they also provided me with a three tier priority list of notifications that should be made to avoid frustrations and issues in the future.  My first priority after doing the government notification of death (SIN, CPP) was to get Kevin’s income tax filed.  That was my main chore for today.

First I gathered all my receipts and government issued forms for both Kevin and me. I also included receipts for drugs not entirely covered by our medical plan. I included the major furniture purchase of his lift chair. Also detailed for the accountant was the number of trips we made to the hospital for various procedures and treatments. Any distance over 40 kilometers can be claimed for mileage, parking and meals. Our trip just squeaked by at 42 km one way. Kevin had more than 20 visits to the hospital between July and December – poor guy.

I was informed that I had to file this year’s income tax as though my husband was still alive, so no proof of death or certified Will was required; next year I will need to provide these items.  When I met with the accountant she questioned some of my receipts – I had included supplements prescribed by the doctor, but available over the counter – these did not qualify.  The mileage and parking was fine, but there was no reimbursement for meals since the government stipulates that to qualify you have to be in excess of 70 km from your home address.   The accountant provided me with a form to take to my doctor which may allow us to revisit his Income Tax return (he owed quite a bit!).  The form was for a Disability Pension – how this works is beyond me, I’ll just see if the doctor will complete it and then I am to call back the accountant one way or the other.

Since I was on a roll I came home and completed more forms to change my beneficiaries and update my marital status with my employer.  I tackled the request that I had received from my husband’s pension board for copies of all the necessary documents to get his survivor’s benefits request underway.  They needed proof of death, proof of marriage, proof of birth for both of us, and a copy of the will.  Fortunately I had all of these things filed and on hand.

When I look at the checklist that the funeral home gave me I realize how much is involved.  So I will work my way through it one item at a time.   It was a rainy day – perfect day to do such depressing stuff.