April 7, 2020
If you just read that and thought, “Oh, that doesn’t apply to me”… it does. This virus is impacting people of all ages, and though some of us are more high-risk than others, this is a good reminder for everyone to have these hard conversations.
The night after our wedding, Jonathan and I sat at a Waffle House and talked in detail about what would happen if he died. We had a plan for the logistics and I understood the process (which is why, when the phone rang when he got hurt that deployment, my first thought was, “Whew! He isn’t dead.”)
Every deployment thereafter (with kids), we’ve had plans in place – with legal documentation – for who would take the kids temporarily if I died or was incapacitated while he was gone. My local friends had my family members’ phone numbers. Our wills are updated. I never left town without letting his unit know, so they’d know where to find me if they needed to deliver news. We’ve had multiple conversations about our end-of-life wishes… and all that goes along with that.
The thing is, though deployment was the catalyst for us, and we’re currently in a pandemic, none of us knows when our time on earth is over. And stress and grief are compounded for our loved ones when plans have not been discussed.
I understand that, due to current logistics and resources, legal documents might not be feasible right now. But here are some other things to think through and discuss with your closest loved ones:
Does someone know how to access your accounts? (Since I pay the bills, I have a spreadsheet with all our account numbers, online passwords, and due dates so Jonathan could at least have a starting point.) Is there anything about your funeral that you would want – or not want? Is there someone who knows the password to your laptop and phone? If you’re partnered, are accounts in both of your names (depending on the type of account, sometimes all it takes is a phone call to get someone listed as a person with whom the company can discuss matters)? Does someone know where you keep important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, housing paperwork, will, passports? More existentially, what are your end-of-life values of treatment and care (prolong life no matter what? transition to comfort care at a certain point or prognosis?)? Pastors and pastors’ spouses, who would officiate *your* service?
We are never “ready” for our loved ones to die… but it helps so much to have these honest conversations while we can. Talking about these matters can also open the door to talk about our values, fears, and anxieties… even when that’s scary.