Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Father Passed Away This Early Morning

I guess the title says it all. In all honesty, I'm more relieved than anything. I saw my father last on November 1st. I tried to encourage him to stay positive but he replied, "Every time I try to think positively, it just seems like I run into set backs. It's as though I shouldn't even try to be positive. All I wanted was to die quickly and painlessly. I can't even succeed at that." My father was a broken man in life and he wasted away in pain during his last months. For whatever he suffered in life, I hope he is happy in the afterlife. Rest in peace, Dad.

Right now, I'm struggling with the conflict between juggling family/cultural obligations vs. financial responsibility. For example, I suspect that my father's brother (my uncle) wants my father's ashes to be buried in the family plot in the old country. I'm not certain, but it appears that the Buddhist Temple would require a yearly maintenance fee or rent that could potentially cost anywhere between $200 - $1,000/year. My mother also believes we need to go back to the old country to hold a memorial for my father's family. The travel costs during the holiday + memorial costs (feeding my father's extended family) could easily run $20,000.

I hate to think of my father in terms of dollar-and-cents, but is it really my burden to carry on this potentially never-ending financial obligation, especially when my father didn't plan for it himself? Am I a bad daughter for even thinking in these terms?

I also feel guilty for feeling grateful that my father passed away before his term life insurance lapsed. This means we'll have some money (~$200k) to hold in trust for my mother in the event she needs to go into an assisted living facility. I'm glad my sister and I had the foresight to file my parent's bankruptcy so that this life insurance money can be preserved for the care of my mother.

There's just something tasteless about not wanting to do something for a deceased parent due to money. But at the same time, I need to do what's financially responsible for me. Where do I draw the line? What are my filial duties and obligations? Perhaps this is one of those questions that have no right-or-wrong answers.


Little Miss Moneybags said...

My condolences on your loss.

Life is for the living, as they say. I can't see a reason for you to dig yourself into debt or compromise your savings goals for these options. And your mother's potential care needs are far more important than maintaining a memorial at this point.

However, there are cultural expectations that need to be considered. It wouldn't do to strain relationships with the relatives who are still alive.

What a tough decision (well, many decisions) for you. Good luck.

Sallie's Niece said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Good luck in handling those tough decisions.

444 said...

I'm very sorry to hear this.

chacha said...

I don't know what the right answer is to that question and I think you are correct, that there is no "right" answer.

I think, probably, you should do it as cheaply as you possibly can. I think the possible regret for not doing it will be worse than the 20K. I would hope your sister would chip in some, too.

Sunflowers said...

I am so sorry. :( My mom is going down a similar path with my grandma... It's very tough. Hopefully your sister will be there to share the burden.

Sending positive energy your way!

Louise said...

my sympathies for your loss.
the questions you raise are difficult ones, i understand the dilemma about the money 7 i think you have to what you feel is right for you, not what other people might expect.

if it were me i would not be spending that money and increasing your own financial burden, sadly your dad didnt make financial provision for a trip back to the old country. you need to think of your own financial future now. i think you're pretty good at working out compromises so trust your instincts.
all the best

FB @ said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

I say that you aren't a bad daughter for not wanting to go back and do all of that. You are just seeing another side of the cultural expectations required.

I think if it really means a lot to your mom, trying to go back on a budget and to save for it but not go into debt is the best option.

You and your sister were so smart to get their financial cards in other so soon.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts are with you.

I fully understand about the cultural expectations and I am sure you will find a way to balance that against your own financial situation.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

My condolences on your loss.

I remember my mom telling me a story when I was younger. My grandfather (her dad) was terminally ill with cancer, and my great-aunt said to my mom "We're torn, because we'd like to go visit, but we wouldn't be able to afford to go home for the funeral if we went now".

My mom told my aunt that she and my uncle should go home *now* - while my grandfather was alive and able to appreciate their visit. And when my aunt protested that "people" would think they didn't care if they didn't then go home for the funeral - my mom told her that the only person that *really* mattered was my grandfather - they could always go home another time, but my grandfather wouldn't be there, would he?

They ended up going back home a week later - spent a wonderful week with my grandfather and grandmother, and never regretted it - they were so glad that they had spent the time with him, rather than waiting for the funeral.

It's certainly not the same situation, but ultimately, life is for the living, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there is a "right answer"

$20,000 is a lot of money. There's no way I'd be spending that.

Anonymous said...

How awful! A sad ending to a sad story.

I think you should do what's right for *you* and not make family obligations decide for you. Is your extended family going to pay the interest on your credit cards or help you pay off the flight/hotel? I didn't think so. Then don't let their expectations rule you. Did they come visit you in the last few months?

I would absolutley NOT spend the $20K. A tough decision, but I'd regret paying for it over not paying for it.

Best of luck, and my sympathies are with you.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your papa and all the loved one left behind especially you.
Moving on up!

Revanche said...

My belated condolences.

I hope you found the right answer for you and your family. I remember when it was coming time to the end for my grandmother, it was very clear that the right thing to do was to see her before she was gone because it wasn't seeing her funeral that was important.

In this case, of course, your dad leaves your mom behind who may well require years of care and maintenance, which is as yet unknown.

And you know I don't think you're a bad daughter in any way shape or form for being practical about any of this. Someone has to be, or at least had to consider all the practical financial aspects.

My thoughts are with you.

Donna said...

I'm sorry that these end-of-life issues have added a new level of stress to your sorrow.
And for what it's worth, I agree that you should NOT spend $20k+ on making the trip. Your extended family might even ask more of you than that, given that you are the "rich American" relative.
Do what works for you. You need to be in good financial shape not just for yourself, but also to be able to continue to care for/be sure care is provided for your mother.
I wish you peace.