It doesn’t hurt to know

emergencyimage.jpgMost insurance companies and bereavement counselors will give you checklists to follow in case of an emergency or after a family member has died. Of course it’s often at such times when the brain shuts down and its hardest to search for the important information even if you want or need something to keep you busy and your mind occupied. Making your own list before hand is hard too. There are just so many other things that get in the way. But when and if the opportunity appears, here are ten items to write down the answers to during the next conversation you have with your parents. (Thanks to Dumb Little Man for the foresight).

I would add though, they don’t have to be just for your folks, but your spouse or siblings or even that friend who may have no family at all. There are other things too I think could be added to this list. For instance,

11. Who on their list of personal friends and contacts would they like to have notified? (I still occasionally get letters from old friends wondering what happened to my parents but I had no idea who they were or how they knew one another).
12. Did they have a habit of hiding emergency funds or personal items around the house and where would be likely places to look? (My mother hid money in the back of her medicine cabinet. When I scolded her about this she just grinned at me and told me it was the safest place she could think of. It certainly was. The house would’ve been sold before I knew to remove that cabinet from the wall.)
13. Whether or not they have a hospital emergency kit packed and what should be included in it. You don’t want to be rushing back and forth during a crises to search for the rosary or the nail clippers.
14. Find a hospice or a care worker you and your parents can talk to before an emergency occurs. Only these folks can guide you through the mine field that is palliative care with compassion and understanding. But if contacted at a moment of crises there is no chance for a partnership to be created and it will be just another confusing voice to listen to at a time when one calm adviser will be the thing you most desperately wish for.

I’m sure there are other suggestions people could offer (like those I’ve mentioned before) but I think these basics are a good start.



  1. One from my parents- Make sure they have a living will and take to them about how long they would want live prolonged.
    When would they want the plug pulled?

  2. We dealt with the question of extraordinary measures in the ER. It was terribile as my parent had never wanted to talk about it…..I can’t underline how important it is to know this stuff about the people for whom you may one day need to make decisions.

  3. I’m in the process of grappling with these very questions lately and trying to put together something that will make sense to my family when I’m gone and it’s been hard for me.

    I’ve been trying to go through all the old papers I have and getting rid of stuff I don’t want my kids and family to have to deal with and I know I should be making lists of who to contact and what I want done, etc. etc. …. It’s so hard for me. Sifting through a lifetime of stuff I’ve been saving…..for what? I’m not sure but I am sure my children don’t need to nor have the time to go through that stuff. I’ve been searching for the energy to do this myself and not sure where I’ve put those reserves of energy. 🙂

    I guess I need to get serious and speak with a lawyer concerning power of attorney and living wills and health care proxies but – I’m just a mess! Maybe it’s just one of those days.

    Thanks for bringing this up and back to the forefront of my cluttered mind today.

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