The Birds And The Bees of Grief: Have You Had ‘THE Talk’?
Written by: Georgia Mae H.
“Have you had THE TALK?” with your parents or your spouse? We grow up anticipating the conversation about the “birds and the bees” with our parents, but later on in life it’s our turn to sit down and discuss something even more important than learning about where babies come from.
I remember a friend of mine expressed that she couldn’t bare to discuss her parent’s end-of-life plans with them. It was “too hard” and “she didn’t want to go there”.
Well, in my case, life had taken me there regardless if I was ready or not. After my dad passed away, I watched as my mom waded her way through hundreds of documents and sat on hold with countless legal/financial/insurance companies to get our ducks in a row. My mom and dad communicated about everything they thought they needed to — but this experience taught me that we could all benefit from a detailed and thoughtful plan in the event that a loved one/spouse passes away suddenly. Sure, you know which bank accounts they have, but DO YOU know the passwords to everything? Do you have access to their email or business accounts? Even if you have access are you AUTHORIZED to act within them?
These are all questions that flooded my mother just hours after my dad passed away and 23 months later, my two siblings and I faced the same obstacles. Even after facing lost once, it never occurred to me to get more exposure to our family legalities.
That being said, I am here to tell you after two losses to HAVE THE CONVERSATION. Sit down and ask where you can access what you would need in the event that your parent or spouse is not longer with us. It’s a terrible and painful thought, I know — but a 15 minute overview could save you MONTHS and even YEARS of following a paper trail to get things in order. Here is a brief list of things you may want to include in your overview so that when you’re grieving you can spend time on healing, not hunting down that email password.
Things to consider (not limited to):
Who is the executor of the will/estate? Choose someone that your loved one trusts and that will have everyone’s best interest at heart. Make sure there is a will written and you have a lawyer that has it in safe keeping.
Loans or ownership info
Which dealership did they buy it from?
Who else is authorized to drive it/make decisions about the car?
Mortgage information and records of payments with a bank contact that knows who you are prior to a loved one passing so you don’t have to wait for the death certificate to make payments
If renting, do you have a key or access to their apartment?
Electricity, cable and water companies/info
Lawn care company (if applicable) info
Do they have life insurance?
If so, are you on their updated will/insurance?
How long will this cover your remaining family members if the deceased loved one is the primary caregiver? This is a priority to get this figured out so you have the care you need in the meantime.
You know all of those bills/accounts they pay every month? Get them in a safe, documented place where you can refer back and easily access the info. Make sure you or your executor’s name is listed on each account or noted as an authorized user.
It takes a minimum of 8 weeks publish and validate a death certificate — and unfortunately that is your ticket to getting into accounts if you don’t have access. This means that bills will go unpaid and invoices will be overdue, causing you more stress in the long run.
The most loving thing you and your loved ones can do for everyone involved is to set a plan for the worst case scenario. Again, we never think it’ll happen to us until it does and we wish we would’ve taken a moment to make our grief journey a little less overwhelming.
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