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Thread: Sudden Deaths and Closure

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Sudden Deaths and Closure

    I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this, so although very personal, maybe a discussion will help weed through all the thoughts going through my head.

    I came home from a long trip yesterday to find out that a very good friend had died. He was only 31.

    Apparently he had a gran mal seizure and collapsed, with no one around. By the time he was discovered his brain had been deprived of oxygen for a significant time, resulting in an irreversible vegetative state. He couldnt breathe without the aid of a respirator.

    Single, with no close family, a half-sister from out of state made the call to pull the plug. He died alone with no one at his side. With HIPAA rules it was hell getting any information about what happened. Fortunately a friend of ours is a nurse at that facility and, under the circumstances, was able to break the log jam and get social services to assist.

    It gets worse. The half-sister is refusing to take possession of his remains. No obituary is planned, nor a memorial service. His remains will likely become a ward of the State for burial in a poorly marked paupers grave on the County Grounds.

    The best we've been able to decipher from his personal papers, with help from his roommate, is that he has no life insurance, no will, and no significant savings. His corpse is at the County morgue awaiting a disposition. All his possessions go into probate. Even if we had the ability to get around probate and get power of attorney to tap his accounts to pay for the burial plot and service, I doubt he's got the funds for it.

    Without a memorial service, none of the friends is really going to have closure. We're trying to figure out some private celebration of life, but everyone is too emotionally drained right now to think straight. This has been an exhausting, depressing, two days.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus dandy_warhol's avatar
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    i'm sorry to hear about the death of your friend. i hope those of you who cared about him can come up with some sort of ceremony to celebrate his life, even if it is just sitting around sharing stories.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Oddly, I haven't dealt much with death. So I don't have any ideas specific to this type of situation. However, I have created "closure" somewhat artificially for various homeschooling projects for my kids. We had a phonics program that they really needed because of their problems in that area but also really hated. They didn't finish the entire program but at some point I felt they had learned "enough". We declared it "done" and they packed it up themselves one last time so I could mail it to a cousin. It helped give them a sense of finality and they really enjoyed packing it up, since it had been such a thorn in their side.

    Hmmm. If the half-sister also doesn't take possession of his stuff, maybe that will something that friends can take care of together in a "packing up" ceremony? And perhaps some folks can take things which are meaningful, to remember him by?


    And, of course, ((((HUGS)))).

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Michele Zone
    Hmmm. If the half-sister also doesn't take possession of his stuff, maybe that will something that friends can take care of together in a "packing up" ceremony? And perhaps some folks can take things which are meaningful, to remember him by?
    WOW thats a good idea on 2 fronts. It will bring everyone together, and help out the roommate who is taking this really really hard. I dunno about taking stuff, except maybe photos.

  5. #5
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Chet,

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Sudden death is a very hard thing to deal with and you don't know how to feel or what to do because of the shock of it. A dear friend of mine died suddenly of a massive heart attack in March.

    Since the half-sister seems to not want to be involved in the burial, settling of the estate, etc.....those of you who knew him best should go talk to the folks in probate court to settle his affairs and perhaps ascertain if he does have funds available to offset the funeral arrangements and to ensure proper disposition of his personal property.

    Just take one step at a time. Have some sort of gathering in your friend's honor, perhaps at a place he liked to be or hang out, or doing something he loved. Invite everyone who knew him. Remember him, grieve for him, and most importantly celebrate his life and the impact it had on you.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I am sorry to hear about your loss. While I am not sure about the logistics of the packing up ceremony, I do think that it is a good thing. Sometimes it is the social events that are not organized by the family but by the friends that offers the best possibility of closure. I agree with MZís comments however. If the family allows you to legally do the packing-up ceremony, then I think that is a terrific idea.

    I think that this should also show how important it is for Adults of all ages to have written documented guidelines and plans in the event of something like this. Sometimes dealing with what was left undone is far worse than the tragedy itís self.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  7. #7
    Moving at my own pace....... Planderella's avatar
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    I'm really sorry to hear about your friend's death. I agree with MZ about the packing up ceremony. Also, maybe you can plan some type of social event centering on what your friend liked to do the most - bowling, dancing, movies, etc.- and celebrate his life. I know when my time comes, I don't want my family and friends sitting around moping about me being gone. Grieve for a little bit and then let the celebration begin.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  8. #8
         
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    Chet, sorry for you loss. It was strange to see this thread this morning, I was going to start a similar one yesterday. A close friend of mine's father committed suicide Wednesday night. It was a shock to her and I am doing what I can for her right now.
    I agree with the packing up ceremony, it may give you and the roomate some of the closure you are looking for.

  9. #9
    My condolences for your loss Chet. I'm not a lawyer, and I didn't stay at a holiday inn last night, but I'd touch base with one familiar with estates and probates. If the half-sister is truly abdicating her responsibility, the courts may be willing to grant a power-of-attorney to someone less than a next of kin. This seems especially probable given that he died in testate and the value of the estate is minimal. Finally, the county likely does not want the cost of interment and would be willing to turn it over to whomever has the power-of-attorney.

    As others have mentioned, I like the idea of centering a memorial on some favored aspect of your friends' life to gain some sense of closure. Best wishes!

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Man that SUCKS. I agree that all his friends should gather, it will help all of you feel better and if that happens I am certain with all of you togather you will find a cohesive solution that none of you will find seperately....
    Hang in there.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  11. #11
          Downtown's avatar
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    Chet - wow honey. I'm so sorry.

    I think you've gotten a lot of good advice here, that i really couldn't add more to.

    I've actually been thinking a lot about death lately - my sister's FIL was just diagnosed with agressive and terminal lung cancer and given 6-8 weeks to live. My BIL spent the evening yesterday writing his goodbye letter to his dad, was sending it today, so that they could talk about it when they visit next week (they live 10 hours apart).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    That's really too bad about the sister and not being interested in organizing a memorial. I think MZ's idea is a good one.

    A memorial can be anything that all of you feel is a good tribute to your friend. At my brother's memorial, a bunch of us hiked to a spot that we knew he loved and scattered his ashes under a beautiful Sequoia tree and then read a prayer. Very simple, but it was perfect for him. And it gives us all a spot to go and 'visit' later. Maybe all of you could get together and have a few beers and talk about the great things about him. Anything simple and heart felt will bring all of you closer together and help you heal.

    I'm really sorry for your loss. My brother was 31 as well.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Wow, this is really sad and tragic. I hope you all can find a way to send him off collectively - i think the packing up party, or some other event is definitely in order, speaking from personal experiences. The "memorial gethering" as an event I have found to be a very productive process. It doesn't matter where or how you do it - just to create the excuse for well-wishers to stop by and sit and eat and remember. It could be pizza and beer or something fancy, but the outcome is the same - telling stories to weave a narrative for someone no longer with us.

    On a more technical note, if your friend did not have many assets, it may not have to go to probate. This varies from state to state, but if the total value is below a certain amount, the state won't touch any of it. Here and, I think, in Texas it is $35,000. It would probably go to the step sister as the closest relative, but perhaps she would agree to have it pay for the funeral (?). The problem is, this process can take a while. Unfortunately, I dealt with this all not too long ago, so I am familiar with some of the ins and outs.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Chet, sorry to hear about your loss. Hang in there. MZ's idea sounds good. Remember to celebrate all of the good things that your friend exemplified in life.

    Bear
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chet
    WOW thats a good idea on 2 fronts. It will bring everyone together, and help out the roommate who is taking this really really hard. I dunno about taking stuff, except maybe photos.
    Maybe you could do something specific to take away to remember him by. A lot of children's parties have little gift bags for the guests. Maybe everyone could get a photo of him, duplicated specifically to give away. Or something like that.


    Alternately, maybe a group photo can be take at the gathering? I'm sure you (or y'all) can come up with something appropriate, if you feel that "something to remember him by" is important.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis
    Sometimes dealing with what was left undone is far worse than the tragedy itís self.
    Somehow I think the death of a close friend is a heck of a lot worse than having to deal with "no will".

    Chet, sorry to hear. Previous post have come up with some good ideas. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot you can probably do without the half-sister's permission. Sounds like your best course of action is to contact her as a concerned group, shore up the roommate, and have that event where he would have enjoyed going with all of you. Good luck.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Chet, first of all, I'm sorry to hear about this tragic news.

    The situation does ring a bell. Last summer, one of my mother's friend from my old hometown died. Like your friend, nothing was settled. There wasn't even a get-together of friends. And, yet, my mother is still in a disbelief that he died.

    Anyways, here's an idea to add to MZ's idea of sharing pictures in a gift bag. Perhaps, all of the photos could be put onto a cd and make multiple copies of the cd for all of those who would like to have the photos to remember of this person.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Thanks for the ideas folks. Its been a crazy couple of days. We're having an informal memorial tomorrow night at his favorite watering hole.

    His wierd sister did eventually come to town with a POA and gave (written) permission for the roommate to take whatever persnal effects he wanted, and donate the rest to goodwill. He's still at the morgue though, she didnt come all the way around.

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