How To Reduce the Trauma in Times of Loss
Insure. Plan. Communicate.
An ounce of prevention.... you hear that all the time. And there is a tremendous truth to it.
Obviously, you can't prevent some of the losses you may deal with in your life. You can't prevent death or financial loss. You can't prevent tidal waves. But you can prevent a good deal of the stress and devastation that will come if you suffer a great loss with just two steps:
1 - Talk
2 - Plan
Talk with your family about what you want for yourself and for them.
Devise a plan to insure that is what happens.
When my father died my mother was lost. They had never discussed any arrangements while he was alive. They had never made a plan, never talked about "what if's", never had enough insurance, never had a "Plan B".
Talk to your spouse or family about disasters. No one wants to, but it really is a necessary part of life. If you ever lost your partner, you'd be faced with a multitude of decisions and problems. What kind of final resting place does this person want. Can you afford your home without this person. Would you want to move back to your family, would you keep working where you work...
Sounds depressing? Maybe it is depressing to have this conversation. But imagine how much easier a time of tragedy would be if you had some kind of idea and plan.
My mother couldn't afford the house they lived in. My father pretty much left her nothing but debt. She had no idea what she would do, or how she would do it. She didn't even know if he wanted to be buried, cremated, or what.
After seeing how much harder the worst time of her life was because of the lack of communication and lack of planning, I knew I would never allow that to happen to my family.
Having good medical insurance is a feat. But without it, what will you do if there is a serious emergency? Make the sacrifices you need to make, to insure that your family won't be completely devastated if you are ever injured or sick. Skip a vacation, shop less, rent a cheaper apartment. Do what you need to do to make sure you and your family are covered.
The same goes for long term disability insurance. You have no greater financial asset than your ability to earn. What would you or your family do if suddenly you could not keep your job any longer?
Life insurance is equally as important. What will your family do if you are no longer there? Are you the bread winner? Are you the home keeper? What will the children do? What would it cost the bread winner of the family to hire a nanny, cook, maid, etc, to do even half of what you do?
Think about your renter's or home-owner's insurance. Will it cover you if you face a terrible life altering ordeal, like a fire, being sued, being robbed, or losing your home to an act of nature?
If you depend on your car or any personally owned equipment for your lively hood, what will you do if something goes wrong?
Plan B's are important no matter where you are in life. I remember looking for my first apartment on my own. I had a good job although it was quite a commute, and I had my own car. But I knew if anything happened to my car, I'd have no way to keep my job, or find another job for that matter. I purposefully only looked at apartments that were within walking distance of bus-stops. Luckily I never needed to take the bus. But that was my Plan B, if I needed it. I may have wanted to live more rurally, but that wasn't a luxury I could afford. I needed to have a Plan B, just in case.
My husband and I talk about these things all the time now. I started out asking him, what would we do if you lost your job. What would we do if our home was destroyed in a storm. The first time I asked him what he would do if I died, he was not comfortable with the conversation. He didn't want to talk about it, he didn't want to plan for that.
Then he watched as family and friends over the years went through different kinds of losses. House fires, major illnesses, loss of employment, 9-11, deaths... he saw friends and family going through the worst times of their lives. And he saw first hand how much of a difference it made when these people had some kind of plan.
It's hard to think about the worst, but it's much harder to think about it when it's happening.
It would be of great comfort in time of loss to know what arrangements your loved ones would have wanted. It would also be of great comfort to know what you will do if things fall apart, whether it is your car, your job, your home, or your health. Having insurances in place is a big help, but having a plan in place is the key.
Here is an example of what I mean. Every time I've adopted a dog, I've taken a friend or family member aside and asked, if anything should happen to us will you adopt this dog and take care of him? I've included in our Last Will and Testament this information and allocated life insurance money toward the care of each dog.
Do you think that's going overboard? Maybe. But we feel better being prepared. The thought that something could happen to us, and my sweet dogs would be homeless, in a shelter, unloved and lost, is just unthinkable to me.
It is even more unthinkable that people have children without that kind of preparation. Unthinkable.
When my husband and I sat down with our investment agent, he asked us what our long terms goals were. We said, we want to always be together. We never want to be separated because one of us becomes disabled or sick. Whether it be in a retirement community, an assisted living situation, a nursing home, or our own home with a visiting nurse, we want to insure that we will not be separated. No matter how old or how sick, we want to be together.
We were amazed when he told us that almost no one thinks of that. They have grand plans for their retirements to Boca Raton, but they don't plan at all for the possibilities they don't want to think about. It would be horrible if one of us one day god forbid became very ill. It would be 100x's more horrific if we didn't know how we would handle it.
Begin talking to your family or loved ones about these things. Make Plan B's or at least ideas of what you would do if the unthinkable happened. If it ever does, you will be in a position of a more composed mindset.
It's never too late start.
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All text is original content by Veronica.
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