When was the last time you imagined what life would be like for your loved ones without you?
When my husband gets annoyed with me, it’s not uncommon for me to say, “you’ll miss me when I’m gone”! There! Take that! He smirks. We move on to the next thing.
All joking aside, it’s not easy for us to let our minds explore what life will be like for those closest to us when we are gone temporarily or permanently. And, because we don’t talk through the what-if scenarios with those who will be impacted, the unexpected consequences compound when we are seriously ill or die.
Let’s consider these three hypothetical scenarios.
- Imagine you’re at a point in life where it couldn’t get much better. You’re a young retiree who is in good health. Your investments are doing well, and you spend time at your beach house every month. You’re the financial manager for the home and handle all the paperwork, bills, and investments. Life is good because you worked hard to make it so!
- Imagine you’re a newlywed attorney. You just bought a beautiful home in the suburbs. You’re young, and you have debt, but that’s expected at this point in life; student loans, new mortgage, car loans. It will be fine since both you and your spouse (also an attorney) are hard workers. You each have separate finances for the most part. You divide and conquer the bills. You’re living the life of your dreams and loving every minute of it!
- Imagine you are an entrepreneur with a growing business. You are beyond busy, selling, networking, and strategizing. You see results from your hard work. You recently quit your corporate job, and now your side hustle is your full-time business. Revenue is rolling in, and you’ve started hiring a team. The tea leaves say that your business is here to stay!
It is challenging to prepare for what could go wrong when we feel like we’re on top of the world.
Alternatively, I suggest that we consider how it would feel to watch our loved ones or business partners struggle to navigate life in our absence.
In the three scenarios above, the next things that happen to the people described are:
- A pancreatic cancer diagnosis and surviving eighteen months.
- Run over by a truck while crossing the street and spending years recovering from a traumatic brain injury and multiple surgeries.
- Falling asleep at the wheel and needing one month of bed rest to recover from the accident.
I don’t tell these stories to scare you. I mention them as a reminder that life is fragile and unpredictable. You already know this to be true. You have your own stories that you could add to this list. It’s human nature for us to want to turn away from misfortune, change the subject, and move on to the next thing. Instead, I challenge you to ask yourself if you’ve prepared those closest to you to sit in your driver’s seat.
I ask you to hold an image in your mind’s eye, and the feeling in your heart of those you care most for, struggling to help you recover as well as to learn how you make the special sauce that makes life run so smoothly.
If you feel inspired to care for your loved ones on a deeper level, then start by creating a plan that they can follow when they need to step in for you. Write your passwords down. Organize all of your legal and critical documents in one place. Spend time telling them what they need to know so they can make your special sauce until you are back on your feet.
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