Stephen Leary's End-of-Life and Memorial Costs

Stephen Leary's End-of-Life and Memorial Costs

From Alaina Lavoie

I'm fundraising to cover the costs related to my dad's unexpected and sudden death: Cremation, medical examiner costs, and required funeral home services.

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After my mom's unexpected death in 2004, when I was 11, my dad took over raising me. An independent contractor cab driver for many years, he worked tirelessly to make sure I was taken care of; not only that my essential needs were met, but that I was emotionally healing from my mom's death. He took me to therapy regularly, made sure I saw my childhood best friends, and taught me everything I know about grieving and loss.

On November 23, 2020, at the age of 60, my dad unexpectedly died in his sleep of cardiac arrest due to a heart condition. In the last few years of his life, my dad was a manager of a sober home, and it was work he was proud of: He was sober for nearly my entire life and would tell me stories of helping men recover so they could reconnect with their kids, or buying groceries for someone who came to the house with no money. My dad didn't have very much money—no life insurance, no pension, no Roth IRA, no 401k—and yet he was always extremely generous. One night, we hung out at the bar at Applebee's eating spinach and artichoke dip and my dad decided to pay for the entire order of the person next to us just to make their day better. I almost cried because that's who my dad was: He loved deeply and wanted to share kindness with others. He was a strong LGBTQ+ ally who supported me from the moment I came out to him and who gave a beautiful and slightly embarrassing toast at me and my wife's wedding. My dad was a hard worker with experience in many fields, including printing services, groundskeeping and facilities, transportation, and painting. 

My dad's death comes just a few months after my wife and I had to pay for our 7-year-old cat Gansey's life-saving emergency cystotomy. My wife and I both work full-time but I have lost several sources of freelance income due to the pandemic that normally would help us cushion emergency expenses like these. We are paying for the required end-of-life costs for my dad on our own, as I am an only child and my mom, my dad's parents, and my dad's brother have all passed away. To honor my dad's wishes, I am keeping the costs low and simple: He didn't want me to spend a lot of money on his death, he wanted to be cremated and for his ashes to be spread at one of his favorite places, Ossipee Lake in New Hampshire, which I will do with family and friends when it is safe to gather. 

Any donations would go directly toward the required costs related to my dad's death, including a simple cremation, medical examiner fees, and basic funeral home fees and services. I will pay for any memorial gatherings, urns, and commemorative memorial items (jewelry, photos, etc.) myself, and no memorials will be held until it is safe to gather in person.  

Thank you very much for your support during what has been a hard year for everyone.

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