Background, my one brother passed in 2019, from there Mum took a nose dive with health and now has severe dementia and lives with me in Aus.

My other brother has been in a care residence in Europe due to slight physical / mental disability. Despite this, he was rather independent until he had a stroke and has been stroller/wheelchair bound approx 10 years.

A fortnight ago (07/10), I received an email from the care residence that my brother had gone to hospital due to a fall. They hadn’t taken him until the next morning as he hadn’t complained much until the next morning he said he’d been in excrutiating pain through the night. They took him for x-ray and from there he was due for foot surgery. The care residence also mentioned that they’d already organised physio and that they were sure he was in good hands but had not taken his mobile with him.

Next week,.. I followed up with an email as I still hadn’t heard from him. On 19/07 I was told they weren’t sure which ward he was transferred to but were planning to find out and take his mobile to him.

I also tried calling the hospital with his details but the reception was unable to say anything without me providing further detail.

Next day 20/07, I got a phone call from said hospital doctor to ask if I’d been querying about (his name). He then gave me the shocking news that he was admitted 07/07 and died on ward 10/07!!! He had reportedly been doing well at 4am check up and 5am check up, he’d passed.

I am so completely in shock and confused over these events!

1. How does the care residence not know what was going on (he had a gov POA). How did they not know!

2. How does it take the hospital 10 days to contact us / the residence?!

3. How does a person going in to hospital with broken/fractured ankle end up dead?!

I am struggling massively at the moment to come to terms with everything. I have now lost both my brothers and Mum has severe dementia and I have no other family or relatives that would help. I’ve been seeing a therapist for burnout and grief before this news.

I am literally frozen, unable to think straight as to what needs to happen.

What am I meant to do?

I want to respect my brother but don’t know how. I feel enournous guilt.

1. I can’t travel to Europe and leave Mum due to her dementia. Respite would not likely work because even now I need to be within reach.

2. I’m not sure if mum would be well enough to travel 25+ hours and I don’t have guardianship yet.

3. In all honesty I don’t have the money for flights / accommodation / funeral at the moment. I have house deposit savings but I feel like I shouldn’t use this.

Note: when my other brother passed, I maxed out a credit card and personal loan (he also passed overseas). And eventually I will also need to pay when Mums time comes. As awful as it sounds these are major set backs for myself. I’m horrified as to what my seniors years will be like if that makes sense. Im 40’s and yet to get myself a nest egg and build for my own retirement. I’ve been a support pillar for my immediate family since my late 20’s.

Mum semi understands the passing of my brother and off course wants a funeral but doesn’t understand the financial side of it. She thinks it’s just a walk in the park basically. So I am upsetting her when I suggest I can’t afford buying last minute flights again and all the other costs.

The care residence is also expecting we come and empty/clean my brothers suite. I said “how do you expect me to do that from overseas and whilst a carer for someone that can’t be left alone”! I said, doesn’t he have a POA that can organise this and they said it ceased the moment he passed. So what does that mean? Does that mean technically his back in my Mums responsibility who is not capable?? Do I even have rights to do anything?

I was thinking if they could somehow hold his ashes until later date? Is that horrible? My other brother spot was for 4 people. Any ideas?

Feel so upset and lost!!

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I am so very sorry to hear your news. Such a big shock.

Give yourself time to get your head around what has happened before you make any big decisions. Flying to the other side of the world, with or without your Mother, brings such financial, physical & emotional burdens, that I cannot see it being a viable choice. Even if there was a free ticket & accomodation, the stress on you both would be extreme.

I would wait. Do what you can by phone.

When ready, arrange a small celebration of life for your brother with your Mother. Some people plant a memorial shrub in their own garden as a token of remembrance. Some frame a nice photo or buy a nice urn as a symbol.

Regarding your brother's fall/ # ankle, it crossed my mind that it is possible his fall included a head strike. Or the fall was even caused by something serious & life theatening eg stroke, heart. Try not to dwell on that. Can't be changed now 😥.

Wishing you peace as you adjust to this shock.
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Suggestions from a fellow Aussie with rellies all over the place.

Your brother is dead, your mother has dementia. Nothing you can do will change that. Your brother’s crematorium ashes are NOT your brother. His last belongings are NOT your brother’s any longer, and they are not your responsibility. It really doesn’t matter what happens to all of them.

If your mother wants some sort of funeral, get a nice vase or urn, decide that the contents are his ashes, and have a ceremony that will satisfy your mother. Scattering off the end of a jetty in the sea was my in-laws' choice. If you are religious, your brother will look down from heaven and thank you for helping.

It’s all been distressing, but the facility quite possibly had no record of your brother’s Oz connections – or else no-one thought to check. My difficult father died in a facility in Truro, Cornwall, and I can’t even remember how I find out about it. There was no question of me going to a funeral, it was over before I knew he was dead. You need to write off a lot of things when people are all over the place, and the links get a bit old. Don’t blame yourself, don’t blame them. Blaming achieves nothing. Neither does an expensive difficult trip to Europe, to impoverish you for no benefit.

Please try to have and share the best possible memories of your brother, because I am sure that is what he would want. Best of wishes, Margaret
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Just want to add I am so sorry for this loss after loss after loss. I am glad you have a therapist to work with.

I’m with JoAnn that you don’t need to go yourself to clean out brother’s room and expecting a family member to do so is unreasonable. Also, I think burials have become prohibitively expensive for most of us, even without taking the international angle you’re dealing with into account! It just doesn’t make sense to me to try to pay for $$$ travel to “say goodbye” when truly you can do so just as meaningfully and respectfully from home.
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I’m sorry for your losses, both of your brothers and your mother gradually to dementia. I live with my 92yo mother who has Alzheimer’s so I understand how hard it can be.

I am tempted to send you all sorts of advice, but you’ve already received some good advice in this forum. If I were to say anything it would be along the lines of you can probably only do so much about what happened to your brother, but it is only as urgent as you consent to make it. The care facility may try to force you into taking charge, but unless you’re the executor named in your brother’s will, you are under no obligation to do anything. Did he have a will?

I assume your brother had very few, if any, valuable assets? If he had nothing of value, then I would just leave it to the care facility to clear out his room. They want the space, you don’t. If they send a bill, and you’re not the executor, I’d ignore it myself. They won’t spend the money to chase you for it, and besides, if you’re not the executor, you’re not responsible.

So, try to slow down, breathe, and let a funeral home take care of sending you his remains.

As for your mother, when she doesn’t remember he’s gone, and wonders where he is, a little therapeutic lying (e.g. he’s been busy, so I’ll ask him to write or call soon.), then diversion or distraction (mom, can you help me fold these towels?) can do wonders. I keep a laundry basket full of old but clean face and hand towels just for this purpose.

All the best to you.
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Cappuccino42 Jul 24, 2022
Yes, trying to figure out the rules in regards to ashes. They used to have a rule that if ashes were taken home, they no longer had a right to a spot in the cemetery. When my prior brother passed, we organised a 4 person spot (I should clarify this is our birth country not where I live). So there is a spot for him but ideally I’d like to not bury him until we or I have been able organise some form of goodbye.

As for mum,.. it seems to have sank in that his gone and she is making me feel super guilty that I’m not forking out 10k for tickets/accommodation/funeral so that she can see her son once more.

I feel horrid about this,.. I feel like Mum has looked after me my whole life and that she is disappointed in me. I just don’t see it financially wise to spend over 10k on this when technically his spirit has moved on. Off course I’d ideally want to see him too but I can’t justify it.
With my other brother, we ran out of money before we could purchase the gravestone because,... Europe! I recall I had $150 to my name when I said to Mum, we need to be on that flight outta here right now!
Can you contact a funeral home or cremetorium there to take over. Have them send his ashes to you. The cleaning out of his room...did he really have all that much? Is it worth the cost of a plane ticket and accommodations to go sort things out. Maybe a staff member would be happy to help if you offered payment. You can video chat. His clothing could be given to other residents. Personally, I would only be interested in personal items and papers. If he had any furniture, let the person helping you have it to sell. Or tell the facility to give it to another resident. His wheelchair can be given to the facility. Then it just a matter of mailing you the important stuff. Lot cheaper than a plane ticket.

Do not go in debt for this. Here, if person is on Medicaid, the State will pay at least for a cremation.
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Cappuccino42 Jul 24, 2022
His burial spot is over there (same spot as my other brother) so I won’t have the ashes sent here but I’m hoping someone could hold them until later date when we/I can afford going over. I just hope I have money for the rest because Europe, especially Scandinavia/Nordics is expensive!
Gravestones start at 2500 euro without detail.
So sorry you are going through this. Consider having brother’s ashes sent to you and hold a simple memorial service with you, mum and some friends. In a park, maybe a minister, maybe a friend playing guitar. As for his suite, if there is anyone who can clean it out (friend, church group etc.) someone could send you by phone or computer photos of what he has and you can direct them what to donate to charity, dispense to friends or throw out. There must be social services where you live to advise you about mum. Just take a few deep breaths, decide to get through this and follow some of the suggestions on here.
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Cappuccino, I am so terribly sorry for this sudden and shocking loss. You must be devastated.

I have no good suggestions right now. I suggest you tell mom that you need some time to plan a funeral and you'll get the details in place "later".
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Cappuccino42 Jul 23, 2022
Thank you for your thoughts :( Yeah Mum is cycling between not remembering his passed but asking why she hasn’t heard from him to actually remembering the ordeal and being upset. Ie yesterday she’d forgotten about it until we went to the grocery store and suddenly there she remembered and felt like collapsing. I had to quickly try rush out of the shop and got her to sit where normally bags are placed near cashier while I paid. That being said even when she doesn’t remember, she still knows something is wrong! She starts getting worried asking where is he, why haven’t I heard from him. I’m contemplating once I’ve been able to arrange something and we’ve somehow paid our respect, to just blatantly lie to her and say his fine etc. :(

but i I just wish I knew where to go from here,.. how to actually pay our respects
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