I want to thank Lisa Bain for agreeing to write this piece for me. She is enduring something that all of us fear and few of us talk about. I would ask that you read her words and reflect on them. -Matt
Life insurance is icky to talk about. We fear death, and life insurance forces us to talk about it. It’s devastating if you’re suddenly left alone without it. Since almost everything these days requires a disclaimer, here you go: Matt Dietz is my insurance agent for everything BUT our life insurance policies. We’d already secured our life insurance through our financial advisor before we even met him. There is no compensation of any kind in exchange for this post. Matt has become a friend, and has followed my open blogging about my grief journey at The Wandering Widow Blog. When we met for coffee recently we talked about the positive impact having life insurance made on my survival this first year after losing Dan.
When Matt asked me to write this post I struggled a bit. My financial situation is my private business, and the last thing I need is some widow hunter thinking I am an easy mark. For the record, I’m not. But life insurance is also an important topic that relates to survival and grief recovery, so I agreed to share this part of my journey in the hopes that those of you who are part of a couple, or have family members you would like to see survive your loss, will see why you should consider it.
Have you ever watched one of those space movies where some impact causes a hole in the ship and everyone gets sucked out except for a few that manage to hold on to something before they can hit the button that will magically save them? Now picture your family. Do you want to see them sucked out into space as your death blows a giant oxygen sucking hole in their lives? Or do you want to see them as the ones who have something to hold on to and survive? Life insurance can be that lifeline that will save them.
When Dan and I married we agreed that we needed enough life insurance for a surviving spouse to be able to regroup, figure things out, pay off the house and other debts, and then move on with life. We were young and healthy and convinced that if we were unfortunate enough to not go out together, that the survivor would continue to work. Having never lost anyone we were pretty naive about what that survival might look like. Except for the part about needing life insurance. Thank goodness for that.
Almost two years ago my strong, healthy, vibrant husband was diagnosed with a very rare and aggressive cancer. We were at “Stage 4 Terminal” from Day 1, and that clock sure ticked louder every day. He was a fighter, and he fought til the end, but just nine months after diagnosis he was gone and my universe tipped upside down and inside out. <<Insert life altering oxygen sucking spaceship hole here>>. He was 49 years old. In the nine months he fought this horrible disease, our medical bills were insane. We made it through without becoming another GoFundMe tragedy, despite being left cleaned out. Which is where this life insurance story begins.
In the months before he died, Dan said over and over, to anyone who would listen, how life insurance was the one relief he had in this horrible situation. That he was comforted in the knowledge that he’d “adulted” right when it counted, and that he knew I’d be financially okay and could take the time I needed to heal. What we hadn’t planned for was the extreme toll grief would take on me. Or at least I didn’t. Apparently, in his conversations with anyone who would listen, he talked about how worried he was that I’d fall apart. He knew me better than I knew myself, because I fell apart into a million pieces. I wasn’t able to return to work for months. If you want the nitty gritty ugly bits, pop over to my blog. That’s not what this post is about.
Life insurance allowed me to focus on healing without being forced to return to work too soon. It allowed me to regroup and cry and not get out of bed for weeks without worrying about losing my house. And it kept me from being another bankruptcy statistic. I’ve watched too many of my fellow widows without life insurance struggle financially. In fact, without life insurance, widows tend to end up at or below the poverty level. That stress on top of the grieving process takes it’s toll physically and mentally. And all of that trickles down to your kids, if you have them. Even my dogs developed anxiety as they suffered through my grief.
It’s taken a year for me to finally feel like my feet were back under me. In life, Dan would have rained fire down on anyone who tried to hurt me. In death, life insurance was his final act of protecting me. It’s something I’ll be forever grateful for.
So if you’ve been thinking about it, do it. If you think it’s too expensive now, think about your spouse and how we underestimate how all consuming grief can be. And if you don’t think you’ll need it, you’re right, you won’t. But I can assure you the ones you love and leave behind will.
The Wandering Widow