by Providence Crowder
Recently, my family and I have experienced the loss of several loved ones. And as anyone who has ever lost someone close to them knows, losing someone you love is devastating. Even when one believes he is prepared to receive it, at the moment our loved one passes from this life to the next, the finality of the act overwhelms the senses. Even knowing death is unavoidable and inescapable, it’s something many families don’t plan for. Besides the Biblical figures Enoch and Elijah, I have not heard of anyone escaping physical death. Death is the inconvenient reality of life, an inevitable end to every being who has ever been conceived.
Whether death is a result of old age, or some untimely event, all of our days are numbered and this is no secret. It’s no great mystery. And just as certain, we know that if past trends hold true, we will lose many people, in this nation alone, to violent crime, accident, or illness. According to FBI Crime Reports, in 2014 we lost 14,249 Americans to homicide. In addition, the Center for Disease control reported a devastatingly high number of deaths from illnesses and accidents. In 2013, nearly 2.6 million people died from cancer, heart disease, respiratory diseases, accidents, suicide, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other illnesses combined.
Armed with this knowledge, do we have our houses in order in case death comes knocking at our door? As a Christian, we often preach about having our spiritual house in order, being ready for Jesus’ return, being ready when God calls us home . . . being ready, that’s what we do. That’s who we are! We are ready!
Yet, what kind of mess will we leave for our families when we are gone to be with Jesus, living in glory, with not a care, no pain, no sickness, no disease, and no tears? Will we leave our family with debt and disorder?
In the past few months, I have watched my family struggle to gather the finances to bury loved ones. In the past couple of decades, I have watched dozens of families, including my own, struggle to bury loved ones. I’ve witnessed fights over assets, I’ve witnessed huge financial messes left to be sorted out and I’ve witnessed individuals and families struggle to make ends meet due to the financial gap that was left by the deceased. It is increasingly painful to watch. Yet, even while scrambling to help bury their loved ones, many still remain indifferent to the costs associated with their own deaths, a cost that will be left for the people closest to them to bear the burden.
With the particularly high number of deaths to children and young adults in recent times, including the high profile shooting death of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee who was brutally slain by a monster in the streets of Chicago, it is increasingly obvious that families are not prepared in the instance of death. With the average family in America living modestly or having just enough to get by, an unexpected death can be a financial nightmare!
Sure, there may be some government burial assistance available for qualified persons, or assets to liquidate, or friends and family willing to donate. However, we can save our family from the uncertainty and the extra effort by taking small steps of preparation while we are able. Getting life insurance is a step in the right direction and can even set our families in a better financial position after we depart, helping them to get out of debt and stay out.
To be perfectly honest, this past year has been enlightening for me. I was aware that end of life planning and decision making were important, but there was no urgency. I have carried life insurance for the past 15 years or so because I knew it was important, but I was not diligent about discussing with my family my wishes or sharing with them what I have set in place in case of my death.
When I made the decision to follow Christ, I understood how important it was for me to make the choice on this side of eternity where I would spend all of eternity. The decision had to be made now; I couldn’t wait until I died. There was an urgency. When I die, it’s too late. The same with end of life decisions. These decisions have to be made now to avoid the additional trauma and confusion that can ensue amongst the family if this responsibility is neglected. At death is too late. Decisions concerning what to do, where, when, and how have to be made, and someone has to make those decisions and pay for those decisions.
One of the most selfless and loving acts you can do for your family while you are alive is to be insured. At a minimum, burial insurance would relieve the great pressure for those families who cannot afford to give you a burial in the instance of your death. I cannot stress how importance life insurance is!
Just as health insurance is a burdensome cost that many people can barely, if at all, afford, I understand that the cost and often long-term commitment of maintaining life insurance is one deterrent. With people struggling to meet day to day debt for the here and now, life insurance is not on the list of priorities for some. But just like any insurance, you don’t appreciate it or realize its value until it’s needed. Life insurance is not so much for you, but for the people you love and will leave behind. I can tell you from personal experience that the immediate days following your death will be made a little easier for your loved ones if they don’t have the added burden of worrying about how to pay for your funeral.
It’s time we got our houses in order and consider the cost be it big or small, that will be left behind in the instance of our death. Discussing death with our families is a necessity. Make getting insured a priority if you are not insured already. Make a Last Will and Testament. Educate yourselves about funeral arrangements and options, costs, and family wishes. At a minimum, have some sort of financial plan available to give your family the reassurance that they will not suffer a financial calamity in the case of your untimely death.