Wednesday, August 5, 2020

When Pre-planning Becomes Pre-dreading

Most people have a junk drawer, and I certainly do have one--ok, two or three--of those. But I also have a junk room.  I call it "the storage room" because that sounds more acceptable, but this repository for items I can't bear to discard consists more of trash than treasure.  

Our waste management service makes its weekly stop on Wednesdays, and I've taken to going into the "storage room" each Wednesday morning, carting an empty trash sack and determined to decrease the clutter. Today I fed the bag two dilapidated Easter baskets that I will never use again but have been keeping "just in case." I then tripped over the Good Will box, which is a collection of odds and ends that I no longer want but are too nice (in my perception at least) to throw away.  I plan to donate these items... at some point, probably within the next four or five years or so...  

I peered into the box and saw the plastic garment bag that contains the brand new dress I purchased for my mom at the time I made plans for her funeral.  

One of the most difficult days I endured as a new caregiver found me writing my mother's obituary at the request of our funeral director. This was a part of the requirements for Mom's prepaid burial plan.  Our doctor had predicted just 3 to 5 years of life remaining for Mom, and our attorney recommended we make arrangements in advance. I had to pick out a casket and make plans for Mom's service, and the kind gentleman who led me through this process suggested we plan something for her to wear.  "It will save stress at the time of her death," he said. And so I perused catalogs and selected a beautifully embroidered dress in Mom's size, and hung it in the back of her closet. 

All this happened nearly 16 years before Mom passed away. 

For all those years, that black shrouded hanger caused my stomach an unpleasant lurch each time I encountered it.  The irony is that toward the end of Mom's life she lost so much weight that, less than a week before she passed, I realized the outfit I'd planned so carefully for her would no longer fit.  I selected a new and what turned out to be a prettier dress, and had it overnighted so that it arrived in time for the funeral.  

There are all kinds of lessons to be learned here. I wish I'd trusted the Lord for Mom's end-of-life needs and not given them so much thought until necessary.  I wish I were better at inhabiting the only point on my time line that is actually mine to influence--the present--and I pray to grow in trust to the point that I'm better able to leave the future in His hands.    

It is probably true that my OCD-tinged advance planning saved time and trouble, but I have walked with the Lord long enough to know that even when we make no wise plans at all, He helps us through. At the very least, I wish I'd left Mom's funeral attire up to the Lord.  I could've spared myself the avoidance I developed of delving too deeply into her closet.  

This morning I bade that black garment bag goodbye.  I stuffed it into my Wednesday garbage bag, and it will haunt me no longer.  And, if somewhere there is a lady who shops Good Will and could've used a nearly 17 year old embroidered suit, my apologies to her.  


"Don't worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today." 
--Matthew 6:34 CEV--

“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it." 
--Francis de Sales--


  1. Hugs to Linda. I have visited your site a few times. I did not know of your mother's passing. She suffered a long time. I want to rid myself of things that have gathered thru the years. These past two have been the hardest of my life so far. Tomorrow we go to the bone marrow clinic and find out if Ted will have more chemo. Praying for some kind of future even in this covid mess. Blessings to you, you have been so brave. xoxo, Susie

    1. Oh Susie, prayers for you re your visit to the clinic tomorrow. Is it bravery or do we just make the decision to move forward and the Lord paves the way? Not to say it is easy. That it is possible is a testament to His provision and power. Hugs.

  2. Adding my hug too. I can relate to this so very well. I had a burial outfit purchased ahead of time for my mom too, but somewhere along the line, not knowing I had purchased it for her evental burial, in her zeal to help me clean out mom's apartment before she moved in with me, my daughter took that beautiful, brand new, designer red jacket to Goodwill (I even went to the Goodwill the next day to see if I could buy it back...but it was apparently snatched up right away). Like your mom, my sweet mom lost SO much weight that the beautiful jacket would not have fit her anyway. In the end, we buried mom in her favorite well-worn pant-suit. They just tucked the excess fabric under her and it all worked out very well. It really didn't matter in the end, as she didn't need it in her new Heavenly Abode.

    1. Oh Cindie. We have traveled similar paths here. I love your final sentence and find it an affirmation and a comfort: "It really didn't matter in the end, as she didn't need it in her new Heavenly Abode." Thanks so much for posting.

  3. A hearty amen! There is so much discussion about death cleaning these days. I've decided it will be easier for the kids to do it; I have way too much of an attachment to it all. That said, I am trying to get rid of those things that make me sad or that I don't need or that really are just plain trash. You did a great job. We don't need these things where we're going.