I know last week I said that we would talk about budgeting today, but I would like to beg your pardon and ask a question today, instead. We’ll visit the topic of budgeting next week. For now, here is my question:
What is more certain and yet more spontaneous than death? We will all die a bodily death, unless Christ comes first. Yet we don’t know the day or hour that our time will come. It can happen today, next month or fifty years from now.
I don’t broach this subject to be morbid or bring you down. I just find it fascinating that we try to not talk about death, as if by ignoring it, it won’t happen. When the truth is, that by ignoring it, we fail to plan for the spontaneous event of our passing and we leave a wake of trouble for those we love most.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die…Ecclesiastes 3
While we’re here on earth, we plan for our education, for marriage, for our children’s birth, their education, their weddings, for our retirement, then WHOA! We come to a screeching halt.
We plan what’s for dinner or who’s house we’ll go to this Christmas, but not what to do if Dad doesn’t walk in the door that night.
We plan for things that might happen in the future, but not for the one certain thing.
Today, my mom and her siblings are at my grandmother’s house, looking for something to indicate her final wishes. They know some and my Nanny had taken care of some things, but there were still some left unspoken.
Having gone through the loss of both my in-laws in the past three years, I have seen first hand how important it is to leave instruction about how to handle your affairs. The last thing that we would want would be to leave our loved ones in confusion, trying to figure out how to best honor us, while they are grieving.
I am not an expert by any means and I am not attempting to represent any legal procedures here. I just have a couple of suggestions to nudge you towards putting a few things in place for your family’s peace of mind and yours, if you haven’t already done so. And just signing up for life insurance through yours or your spouses employer isn’t enough!
Start now – even if it is just making a list of what you need to do. Then at least you will have something to work from.
Do some research - check out some books from the library or look on the internet to find out what you need to have in place. Just make sure your source is an official source that you can trust.
Consult a lawyer – for legal matters, you may want to have a lawyer advise you and draw up any documents. If you can’t afford it right now, at least call to find out how much it would cost so you can save for it. You can find Family Lawyer programs to draw up your own documents for many things, so that at least you have something in place. Make sure to have them notarized if necessary. Also, many companies provide legal counseling at free and reduced rates for employees as part of an employee assistance programs. Check and see if this is available to you.
Cover all your bases – often we think about our financial affairs, and neglect our most important asset, our children. Make sure to include guardianship wishes in your planning. If you are a single parent or if something should happen to both you and your spouse, who would you want to have your children? Be specific. In many states it is up to the court to appoint guardianship. Next of kin isn’t an automatic guarantee. Besides, you may desire someone other than next of kin to take care of your dear children. Make sure you make this known to your family as well, so it does not come as a surprise.
Be kind to those left behind - get your affairs in order. If you don’t have a filing system or household notebook, start working on them. In many families, one spouse is often in charge of family information, bill paying, etc, leaving the other spouse in a mess when left behind. Make sure both of you are on everything you can be, saving you extra steps. Don’t forget your safe deposit box, too, which can be a bear to get into if you aren’t on it and/or don’t have a key.
Be personal - you can take care of everything you can possibly take care of, but the thing that will be most treasured is something personal from you to those you love. Don’t be intimidated about penning something to your spouse, children, even extended family and friends. Just write how you feel and tell them you love them. You won’t be here to get embarrassed anyway!
As a mom, I know there are lessons I’ve learned and wisdom I want to impart to my kids. I want them to know what God has done in my life and what Jesus means to me. These are things I might not have the opportunity to pass on, that will be gone forever with me.
I hope I haven’t brought you down today. That is not my intent. Rather, when you hear of someone’s passing and think, “am I as prepared as I can be?”, my hope is that you will be able to know that you are. Death is hard enough without adding undue stress. Let’s plan so we can be at peace and make the most of the time we have today.