Yesterday began in a most bizarre way. I was lying asleep under my snuggly doona when suddenly, blaring sirens shocked me to alert. At 5am I jumped out of bed to evacuate. I put my dressing gown on, grabbed a few essential things and got down four flights of stairs as quickly as possible. I joined my apartment block neighbours in collective curiosity and confusion on the side of the road. What was going on?
Today is the anniversary of my late husband’s passing. I always dread this day. Yes, the memories of the 14 years I shared with him are a blissful treasure. But on this day, I remember just how gutting it was to find that he had died on our kitchen floor when I was at work. The 28th May will always be a sombre day where the significance of the loss hits me hard.
The experiences of these two days have created a mash-up of me thinking about how we protect the things we hold dearest. I hope my reflections today make you stop and think about how you would fare if the unthinkable actually happened. How well are you set up to deal with unexpected tragedy?
I know it’s a dark question, but every day thousands of people are forced to deal with unpredictable loss. You can’t know what will happen in your life, but you can do some smart things now to minimise the impact of sudden crisis.
Prepare Your Documents
There were easily 50 people who watched the fire engines roar down our street in the early hours of yesterday morning, but I was the only one who had my identification and other documents bundled up in a folder. I’d grabbed that folder, my phone and my wallet on the way out. If our apartment building really had burned down yesterday morning, I don’t know how we would have coped with the loss. But I do know that I would have had my essential documents and ID with me.
FOR YOU: Gather up your papers into one folder and keep it somewhere handy so you can grab it on the way out the door in case of an emergency. Include your original birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate, court order docs, your will, and master password to your password software. Also include certified copies of these so they’re ready if you need them for insurance claims or other post-crisis business.
Work In The Cloud
It would have been handy to have grabbed my computer yesterday morning, but this wasn’t essential because all my work is stored in Google Drive. I do have some things stored for convenience on my desktop, so if I lost my computer I would lose those things. However, everything stored on my desktop is also stored in Drive. If I lost everything to a fire or flood, I could still log in to my cloud storage, or my other online accounts and keep working. I would be devastated by the loss, but important things would still function.
FOR YOU: If you don’t have all your personal and professional matters organised well online, you are long overdue for an overhaul. Create folders for each business department to store all your business resources in logical places. Set up spaces to manage your personal things too: photos, health records, contracts and agreements etc. Keep building out the infrastructure you need to create safe, secure places for the information that will keep you afloat, even when the unexpected happens.
… oh! And secure everything with encrypted password protection. We use 1Password.
I don’t own the building I live in, so I would lose my rental home if it burned to the ground. I would also lose my possessions, but I am insured well so I could set myself up again. It would be hugely painful to lose sentimental things that can never be replaced. That would hurt, a lot. But I could buy another car and furnish another home. If something happened to me (heaven forbid), my children would be financially looked after for many years to come. The plans for my funeral are stored in Drive and shared with my 22-year-old daughter.
FOR YOU: Review your insurance policies to make sure they are up to date and your coverage is adequate. Be certain that you will have what you need to pay for new contents, medical care, or even a funeral if it’s needed. Also confirm that your loved ones will not be left with a financial burden in the unexpected event of your death. If you’re not sure, seek advice.
I cannot emphasise just how deeply wounding the loss of a loved one is. It is a painful tragedy that will always hurt. The last thing you need when you are coming to terms with this type of devastation is administrative roadblocks. Set things up now so that the chaos can at least be managed.
I pray you never see the day that this advice made a difference.
But if it does, I want you to know how to cope best.
P.S. Just so you know, the entire affair turned out to be a false alarm. There’s a faulty sensor in our basement that needs to be fixed. I hope they do it soon. Not keen on repeating this experience any time soon.
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