Author: Adrian Ashton
Written 23 July 2021, Published 5/11/21
We never think it will happen to us – that we’ll be the one who dies first in our immediate family. Therefore, we tend not to think about how our surviving spouse, partner, or children will cope with the immediate aftermath.
And that aftermath isn’t just the emotional shock and grieving, but the practical need to keep paying the rent, pay the bills, etc – just because we’ve died doesn’t mean the world stops turning for them, or will allows them the breathing space they need before getting back on the ride of daily life.
Over the last few years, I’ve found myself working with Boards and senior management teams in the wake of their chief execs unexpectedly dying; and with founders who’ve been given terminal diagnoses. This has seen me help them explore how their respective business, charities, and social enterprises can continue and what legacy those who are now gone (or are about to be) should be created and honoured.
And it got me thinking about my own personal circumstances – if I were to die suddenly, how would my fiancé (or wife, depending on the gap between when I’m writing and when you’re reading this), cope?
Now, I don’t intended to portray them as a wilting flower whose incapable of being able to manage anything (in some ways, they’re actually far more capable than I in getting sh!t done sometimes). No, what I’m concerned about is that if I’m suddenly no longer here, I want them to feel that they have the time and space that they need in order to properly grieve and work through their emotions for themselves, and with our children. And I’m also concerned that just because someone who may be the most significant person in your life has just died, your landlords, energy suppliers, and others, still expect their bills to be paid on time as usual. Which means there’s a need to get back on the treadmill of earning money to take care of that as soon as possible – and all at a time when there’s also increased outgoings (funerals to arrange, etc).
Now, I’ve always tried to be semi-organised with my life, and have a couple of small health and life insurance policies. In the event of my passing, they would probably stack up to cover at least a few months of household bills (which is the point of having them).
But they’re flied in separate accounts, and across different folders – all of which make eminent sense to my idea of filing, but would probably appear labyrinthine to others.
I’ve therefore summarised the details of each policy (name, policy reference, and contact phone number to claim on it) in a very short word document (along with details of government support that may also be available), and saved this to dropbox folder I share with my fiancé/wife.
I’ve told her it’s there, what it’s about (see above), and that its main purpose is that in the worst-case scenario for us, she can quickly access what she needs to to drawn down the money that will mean she doesn’t have to worry about bills or costs for a few months, so that she can focus more on her grieving – and my hope is that in this meaning there’s less distraction for her in it, that it’s a more constructive and healthier process for her and my kids.
But ultimately, it’s a shared document that I hope she never has to read.
With thanks to Adrian for sharing this with us. Find out more about Adrian's work here: https://www.adrianashton.co.uk/
Have you got organised yet for your own wishes? Check out the work of Huunuu for some cool tools to make sure you've got everything you need: https://www.huunuu.com/
Interested in exploring death and loss in the world of entrepreneurship? Get in touch with Carly to firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation about what we could explore together.