This week has been one of learning. How grief makes people do funny things. How life can change suddenly, without warning. How one should have a plan for the unthinkable.
I asked myself this question, “What would happen if I died suddenly?”
I know that’s a question that most people ponder. But, as a homeschool mother, it’s one that I feel I need to address. After all, I’m not just a mother, I’m the children’s educator. I am their primary caretaker. I am the one who records their daily lives. I am the one who makes the appointments. I manage their lives.
What would happen if I wasn’t there to manage anymore? I need a plan.
“hope for the best, prepare for the worst”
― Chris Bradford, The Ring of Earth
How to prepare for an unexpected death of a homeschooling parent.
Life Insurance/Emergency Savings
With an unexpected death there is probably going to be shock. Shock is a beast that can last as long as a day, but often months, sometimes years. Typical daily routines may become impossible. Prepare your family for this.
There are two options: A term life insurance policy (ON BOTH parents) or an emergency fund equal to one year of the family’s income. This security will provide the remaining parent time to make the important decisions. This will also allow them to provide a transition for the children from homeschooling to another form of education if necessary.
Overall, you want to give your family time to grieve and adjust to their new normal. Even if the life insurance is only for the amount of one year’s income. $20/month for the average 35-year-old. Make the decision to protect your family.
Decide about the children’s major life decisions together
I’m not talking about deciding what Junior will do 20 years from now. As parents you should discuss things like:
If you cannot homeschool, what type of education would work for your child?
Have you always dreamed of your child going to a certain college?
Do you have family traditions that are important to you?
Do you know how you will handle dating in the teen years?
Do you have family that you do not want your children to see?
Do you have family that you want your children to see?
Have you prepared for college expenses?
Do you have a written parenting plan in place?
These don’t need to be “set in stone”. Clearly, the living parent will have to make decisions that don’t include you. You cannot plan for every decision. But, it will help during the first weeks and months of grieving if your wishes are written down. This will allow the parent to make the decisions necessary without “well-meaning third party assistance”.
Designate a public liaison
This may really only apply to homeschoolers engaged with social media, but I feel it’s necessary. When a tragedy strikes a family usually doesn’t want to mess with the outer circle of people. If the spouse is like my husband they won’t have a CLUE as to what you do online or within a homeschool community. Still, it doesn’t erase the fact that your “public” community is going to miss your presences. They will want to know what they can do to help. They will want some way to let your family know that you were important to them. For the family this can be just as annoying as a stranger prying into their personal pain.
Therefore, have a person that they can contact. It should be someone that the family knows and trusts. This person should have phone numbers for you and your spouse. Address. And email. This person should be willing to give as much information as the family allows. They should be willing and able to help the family with the necessary measures needed to handle the realities of a public life.
Believe me, it will save a lot of heartache for your family. And it will help the community that you are apart of to help in a way that really helps.
Create a family management notebook
Believe me. This is the one thing that I have that I wish I would use better. It would probably keep me from losing important papers or bills that need paid. Instead it’s a pretty binder on my desk.
The numbers, names and addresses of the places and services your family use are probably only in your head. Your family will need this information. Memories are not always the best tools. Especially under grief. So have this information ready for them.
What should you include?
Children’s pediatrician, dentists and any other health professionals, names & numbers
Sketch of routines, especially if it’s something only you do.
Passwords of all online websites where you are a member.
Legal document giving your spouse authority to handle your online accounts including Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Name and number of yearly house service providers. For example, we have our sprinkler system backflow checked every year. I have the receipt in our files, but my husband has no clue who it is…or that the receipt exists.
Note: some of this information is private and should be protected from accidental use by others. I recommend keeping that in a safety box.
Write a Letter to your Children
Write a letter to your children. Bless them. Let them know you love them. Share with them your first experiences. If you are a believer, share with them your testimony. Give them advice. All the advice you’d give if you were there. It may seem silly now. But if you are unexpectedly gone, they will appreciate this. You don’t need to write a book (unless you want to) but give them something that they can read over and over in the years to come. And if at all possible, it should be in your own handwriting.
Number your days
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalms 90:12, NIV) I’ve always thought of that scripture as a doom of sorts. But recently I’ve gained a different insight. We should recognize that our days are limited. That doesn’t mean we panic. No, we number them. Live them as loudly as we can. We are homeschooling parents. Blessed with the opportunity to spend extra time with our children. We should not spend it worried about the what-ifs. We should spend it in the moment, enjoying the moment. Because once it’s gone, it won’t be back.
Thank you for letting me share my heart on this subject. Make a plan, and then move on. Live life. Love your children. Laugh often.