When I was 22, I moved to New York City. I’d just graduated from college and my parents agreed to support my first few months as I dove headfirst into the theater scene. By Thanksgiving, I was starting to get a footing and had some exciting gigs lined up for the end of the year. Then I got a phone call I’ll never forget.
“Daddy’s gone,” my mom said. I could hear the pain, love, shock and uncertainty in her voice. I couldn’t believe it. How could my father, at 49, be gone? All of the sudden, I felt the profound permanence of death. I couldn’t call him anymore. I couldn’t ask for his advice. I couldn’t give him a hug when I flew home for Christmas. My family had a massive, dad-shaped hole.
As I packed that night to fly home, I couldn’t help but think my time in New York was up. Surely I’d have to move home to make sure my brother stayed in college and my mom didn’t lose her house. After all, my dad was the primary breadwinner. Without his income, I knew we’d have problems.
Casseroles weren’t going to put a check in the mailbox for the next mortgage payment.
When I landed in Denver, I experienced the incredible support of family and friends. We didn’t have to cook for weeks and relied heavily on their guidance in walking through the early days of shock and grief. Still, the issue of how my mom was going to make it weighed heavily on me. Casseroles weren’t going to put a check in the mailbox for the next mortgage payment.
My dad had a plan
Fortunately, my dad had a plan. His love for my mom, my brother and me became evident in new ways as we pulled his will and two life insurance policies out of the filing cabinet. He’d given us space to grieve and to process by putting an insurance company on the hook for college, the mortgage, and even my mom’s retirement. Losing my dad didn’t have to mean losing everything.
Unfortunately, millions of Americans are completely unprepared for loss, especially permanent loss. Because we’ve been taught to find the cheapest insurance possible and conditioned to only buy what the government mandates, we go through life betting that our friends and family will figure out how to “make it work.” Though I strongly believe in human resourcefulness, I have a hard time accepting the fact that Americans often insure their cars and houses for full replacement value, while leaving loved ones to figure it out when they die.
Will your family have to ‘make it work?’ Or, will you express your love for them by insuring your ability to provide a home, vacations, college and space with life insurance?
Over the last two months, I’ve read at least five stories of families walking through the tragedy I know all too well. In each situation, loving friends donated to and shared a crowd-funding site to help cover the cost of final expenses: $5,000 here, $10,000 there.
While that is a lot of money, it is far from enough. If a 35-year-old dies making just $30,000 a year, his family would experience a loss of over $1,400,000, accounting for inflation at 3% annually. College, vacations, weddings, gifts, groceries, cars, homes and space to grieve disappear when the “make it work” plan takes effect.
What’s your plan? An insurance professional can help you to navigate your protection strategy. Will your family have to “make it work?” Or, like my dad, will you express your love for them in yet another way by insuring your ability to provide a home, vacations, college and space with life insurance?