I went to sleep as usual and within minutes my heart stopped and my world changed. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my wife or my sons. Their lives are now dramatically changed forever. Does my wife know that she was my everything? Do my boys know that every night I fell asleep thinking of them? I didn’t plan this but it happened. How many people actually plan their own deaths, other than suicides? This sucks!
Can my family survive without me? Did I set them up to survive? Does my wife know any of my passwords and where I store them? Does she know the name of our stock guy or where to locate our stock portfolios? How about my pension information and how to collect my life insurance money? How about warrantees and bank accounts? Is there anyone out there available to assist her? Is my homeowner’s insurance going to lapse and allow my house to be unprotected? In case of emergency, does anybody in the house know where the water and gas shutoffs are? Do they know what to do when a fuse blows and the electricity goes out? Do they know where my important documents are kept? Insurance, wills, passports etc.?
When they need an electrician or plumber, will they know who’s reliable? How about the auto mechanic or where to buy car tires? Who’s our tax preparer, banker, attorney? Who are the dependable and trustworthy people that we’ve used for years?
Luckily, I’m still here. The above was a dream, a nasty one, but a dream. We’re not invincible. How about our friends with the terminal diseases? Those few people that were allowed time at the end of their lives to prepare and say goodbye were in a morbid way, lucky. Now think of all the rest that died without any warning, no time for farewells. You, the reader, say it will never happen to me! It will if you don’t prepare for death, particularly for those you care for.
Take a deep breath and now let’s start. Make a list of your contacts, names and numbers, passwords, bank accounts including stock and pension information. List your attorneys, tax preparers, mechanics, painters, plumbers, electricians and handymen. Anybody and everyone you have used for any type of service to your home, finances, automobile, medical or financial wellbeing.
Make a list of those old friends that should be notified upon your demise. This sounds morose but it is actually one of the kindest things you could do for the family and friends you leave behind. Many years ago, I lost touch with a close friend whom I worked with after he retired and moved. One night I received a phone call from his son telling me of my friend’s departure. He stated his father left instructions for me to be notified as well as a few other friends that he had gradually lost touch with. I was saddened but thankful for the few precious minutes to say goodbye at his wake.
Have directions involving funeral and burial. Again, sounds morbid, but your guidance in your final preparations will relieve such an enormous burden from your remaining loved ones. If you have ever planned a funeral or wake, you know exactly what I am speaking of. Make a list of what you want at your final party. Too often survivors believe they need to go overboard and are directed by funeral homes that are simply in this for the money. Make a list of exactly what you want, more importantly, what you don’t want, music, flowers, food etc.
The whole essence of my article is that life is too short. We’re often too busy with our side jobs, advanced schooling, or studying for the next promotional exam to take time to show our appreciation to our special ones.
Make that list. Grab that kiss, snatch that hug. Open up and say what you feel. Remember, when the time comes, as it will for all of us, it will be too late, and we don’t get do-overs.
To all my brothers and sisters in blue, lock and load and protect each other. And as always, stay safe.
– Larry Casey
Note: View Larry Casey’s website at www.StoriesofaChicagoPoliceOfficer.com and review his book by the same name.
(Feature photo credit: Anthony Reyes)