What If...

I’ll apologize in advance, this is a bit of a downer post.  It’s an important subject though, so, here we go.

When you become a parent, you discover that there are a fair number of what I like to call, “not going there” subjects.  Things that are just too hard to think or talk about when it comes to your children or your family.  They can range from simply awkward and confusing to flat out devastating.  As one of my sons has significant special needs, there  seem to be a lot of these.  Too many. 

There is one that is not unique to my situation though, and that is, what happens to your child or children if something happens to you?  And by “you” I mean both parents.  None of us like to think about dying, especially not when you have a minor child or children.  It’s an important issue to deal with, however, despite how hard it might be.  I say this, though I am not terribly good at practicing what I preach. 

On the surface it might seem like an easy decision, if you have really close friends or family.  There are a lot of things to consider though, so you need to be very thoughtful about how you approach this.  Housing situations, locations, financial issues, how many children are there already in the household if any, religious issues if any, the list goes on.  Your best friend in the world might seem like your obvious choice but if you have 3 kids and she already has 3 of her own, is that really a workable situation for her?  To suddenly have 6 kids?  How will they manage financially?  What about the housing situation?  If you pass away when your children are still young enough to need care, then chances are you will not have a significant estate built up yet to help provide for their future.  Financial considerations are important.  If you are thinking about your parents, keep in mind any age issues that might arise. If you have been attentive to this already, remember to reevaluate as time goes by.  Life changes for everyone.  Is the choice you made some years ago still an appropriate choice?  Sometimes it might be necessary to make changes to the plans you have made.

Aside from the decision process, there is the discussion with whomever you have chosen.  No matter how close you might be to someone, this is a big, fat, life-changing deal, and when faced with the reality and significance of it, some people might not be very comfortable.  You need to talk about it.  Also be understanding if those you have chosen are not so quick to jump on board.  Like I said, there is so much to consider here, it can be extremely overwhelming.  You may need to find someone else.   I think this is more of an issue in my case, given Josh’s disability.  He will need lifelong support and care and that is a lot to ask of anyone, even those who love him as much as much we do.  

The boys’ father and I have been procrastinating on this for far too long and we know it.  Partly because it really is a tough thing to think about, I can’t help but cry when I have to “go there,” but also because in our case, as I mentioned, it is that much more complicated by Josh’s issues.   We haven’t done ourselves or the boys any favors though.  I talk myself in to believing that our families will take care of things if something happened before we get anything set up legally.  That is a lot to put on the family.  It is also not necessarily something that will be easily worked out.  My mother had neighbors a few years ago, a young couple.  The woman was diagnosed with spinal cancer while she was pregnant and died not long after the baby was born.  So dad was alone, raising their little girl.  A couple of years later, he died unexpectedly of a heart attack while on a bike ride with some friends, leaving his young daughter an orphan.  There was a bitter fight between the grandparents regarding custody.  Sad, sad story on so many levels but really, did these families need to be in a court fight when they had both experienced such great loss?  No.  If the dad had made sure arrangements were discussed, defined, and legally set before he passed, they would not have had to go through that on top of everything else. 

I hadn’t been sure what I was going to write about here this week, I had some other things in mind until this morning when I saw the news.  Plane crash in Tripoli killing all on board except, a 10 year old boy.  It would be my guess that he lost his parents in the crash, since chances are a 10 year old Dutch boy would not be traveling from South Africa to Libya on his own (possible I suppose, but not likely).  All I could think of was, what is going to happen to him now?  The hope is that arrangements have been made and there won’t have to be any more heartache for his family than they are already having to deal with.  So, I decided to bum everyone out with this today, but it’s important.  New parents, old parents, and everyone in between need to “go there.”

That’ll be one less “what if” for you to worry about.