It’s a hard truth that a percentage of us know all too well.
We don’t live forever.
In fact, some don’t make it to parenthood, while others are lost far too soon while their children are still young. In my case, my late husband, Scott, passed away suddenly in a car accident at the age of 37. Our children were 2, 4, and 7 at the time.
None of us saw it coming.
Over the years, I’ve considered what’s been helpful for our three kids and what I wish he and I would’ve known.
Parents, you will not live forever, and if you die young, there are things your children will need. Again, its a hard truth, and I don’t want to be the one to talk about it… but it needs to be out there in a Google search somewhere for you to find; Maybe you’ve had a health scare recently, or you’ve been blindsided with the loss of someone close; and it’s got you thinking about mortality…maybe you’re just a preparer (like I am now), whatever brings you here…
Here are some suggestions from a widow who’s lived it…
1. Get Life Insurance: Maybe you think it’s just for people with money. Maybe you’d prefer to spend the money on the here and now. Been there. But life insurance is the greatest way to ensure your children and spouse are cared for in your absence. Scott and I did not have it for most of our marriage, then five days before he was killed, he told me that he took out a policy. I was quite immature back then and refused the conversation when he brought it up. He said: I know it’s uncomfortable, but if something happens, you and the kids will be ok. Sell the house and take care of the finances. (So take Scott’s advisement: get the life insurance and TALK about these things no matter the discomfort they give) … which leads me to number two…
2. Start a Will: Again, some may think that this is something for people with money, right? Nah.
Take for instance:
Do you own a home? Ok. Who’s going to get that? I am only familiar with my home state of Michigan, so check your local laws, but in Michigan, without a will and if there’s not another name on the house, it will go into probate, which means the state basically takes management of the property until it’s decided that there’s a competent executor of the deceased estate. Believe me, as a widow and recovering realtor, this is not a fun process; And considering that your loved ones will be grieving, they may not have the energy to pursue a home in probate… losing the asset all together. This is only one example of why.
Things just happen.
Start a will.
3. Write a love letter. Write it now, add to it later if you need to. Write multiple over time if you wish, but one thing I cannot tell you enough:
Write a letter to your children.
Tell them what makes them special. Why they make you smile. How you felt upon first seeing them, and what you hope for them. Give them all the life advice that comes to you. As my children grow into their formative years, this is a huge desire of there’s. I cannot tell you how many of their tears I’ve dried over the absence of his fatherly advice. Please do so.
3b. Record your voice. Hey… while feeling the ink on paper and seeing your handwriting and the labor of love is it’s own experience for your children, if writing is not your thing, try sound recording your words. We only have a few voicemails of Scott’s and a few videos, but they’re precious. Could you imagine if he’d recorded himself talking to the kids and his advice and the other items above? Invaluable.
4. Get in the photos. We see blogs about this all of the time. Moms not in photos because they’re the ones taking them. Dads have this issue too. When you die, all the photos taken up to the point are it. The desire for “more” never ends for your loved ones, so do it. Cooking dinner, cheering in the living room at Sunday night of football, ordinary stuff. Don’t be shy. Take the pictures and ask your spouse to take them too.
5. One HUGE way my children feel connected to their father is through music. Make some playlists. It’s so simple, but for my son Jaxson, who has no true memories of his dad, he LOVES listening to his dad’s favorite bands and artists and shares a lot of similar interests.
6. Work/Life balance. You may not want to hear this. You may notice it already, as your kids grow… that they’re only young once and us missing things, overworking ourselves or not being present when we are home… means we are not creating the memories that they cling to when we’re gone. Working hard is a great example, but being there to create the memory is what it’s all for. I’m not suggesting you quit your job. I’m only saying: Make the time.
And while you’re at it, take a picture and record it in your letter 🙂
You are, after all, leaving a legacy in them. 🌱
Remember, life is hard whether we live it or not, might as well live.
Big love, Meg