Sudden Death: Are We Prepared Enough?

How prepared are we to embrace the sudden death of someone very close? Husband, wife, father, mother, brother or children? People, who are above the peripheries of social relations and sentiments. People on whom we are directly dependent. People who comprise your core daily support system.

Pardon me for being brutally honest. Sudden untimely demise is always tragic. Beyond emotional damages, it rips apart the fine balances, that marks your livelihood and social security.

The Sounds of Shattering Dreams

For example, can the aging parents survive if their only earning child meets with a fatal end?

Can a husband single-handedly step up and imitate the role of a caring mother? Feeding the kid, tucking him to bed, dressing him up, helping with the homework. And a million other things. A mother has an irreplaceable and indispensable role in a child’s life.

Alternatively, if the husband meets an untimely end, can a wife, still promise her children the same life, the family always dreamt of? Can the kids still go to the same school? Pursue the same college? Go for vacations? Afford the same brands?

The Recovery Is Never Easy

Yes, there are exceptions. There are people who overcame such challenging situations and emerged stronger. But the recovery wasn’t easy and took a long time. Years, maybe a decade. In most cases, the magnitude of chaos turns your life upside down. It rattles your future, your present, and all your social paradigms.

A predictable death gives you time to prepare. But, sudden deaths leaves in a state of shock. A fatal cardiac arrest or a ghastly accident could suffocate life in seconds, while you helplessly watch your dear one fade into the dark.

While you still struggling to find grounds under those trembling feet, a hysteric society with its pile of rituals, beliefs, codes, and opinions descend down like unfathomable moral guardians. The family gets busy attending to guests, listening to empty condolences, nodding to diverse views, planning for the elaborate rituals, arranging for the funeral, food, supplies, accommodation and a million other things.

From Childbirth to Crematories

Soon all of these gets over. The commotion fades away. The unpardoning silence grips your life as you start confronting the real problems. The money issues. The fact remains, that money shamelessly drives every dimension of today’s society. From the surgeon cutting loose the umbilical cord during childbirth to the workers at the crematoriums/ Ghats. There’s a price tag attached to each. How inhuman have we become? Even the municipal clerk issuing a death certificate grinningly asks for a 200 bucks tips.

Gasping In the Dark: Mortgages, Fees, Rents, EMIs and Deficits

While non-earning and dependent family members are the backbones of a household, they are usually more vulnerable to financial pitfalls. Since their “focus” is prioritized around household well-being, children and daily chores. The fine elements that constitute a ‘Happy Home’. And more often, they are reluctant to delve into the financial nitty-gritty. Dinner table conversations mostly circle around family, social events, neighbors, and lame gossips. Precisely, the ‘regular things’.  People never anticipate an abrupt derailment. Problem is, life does come with a warranty card.

Personally, I have seen people struggling for years, living in despair, hoping to get the money matters sorted out. Apparently, the dependents had no idea of where the money was, how to get quick access,  what were the mortgages, stakes and liabilities, policies and deposits. And as a new month dawned, rents, bills, school/tuition fees, EMIs, and deficits were pouring in.

Non-Earning Dependent Family Members: Be Aware, Be Prepared, Be Informed

If you are a dependent (or not), I call it “Being responsible” to acknowledge a few crucial things.

  • Are you aware of a running bank account with emergency cash? Debit cards and ATM PIN.
  • Are you aware of fixed deposits and other liquid savings? Are you the nominee? Which bank/branch?
  • Are you aware of online banking credentials? Where can you find the passwords? And registered mobile numbers for OTPs.
  • Are you aware of the EMIs, outstanding loans, which bank, whom to contact? What if you fail to pay the loan?
  • Are you aware of running medical and loan insurance policies? Do you have the member policy cards handy?

Running businesses are tougher to rescue, especially when the owner meets an abrupt end? The absolute chaos stretches far beyond the immediate family. The immediate crisis and panic engulf each stakeholder, staffs, clients, and vendors. Who’s in-charge the very next day? Is there someone faithful enough to be the immediate ‘deputy’? The loan sharks and legal vultures might snoop down demanding their dues. Staffs might look for a quick exit, reluctant to continue on a sinking ship. Banks might strong-arm you into settling off mammoth business loans, threaten to confiscate your house, car, and every possession that you hold so dear. Unless the family has a quick “cheat-sheet” or a “guide-book”. Names, contacts, figures, and amounts. The right details to differentiate between a sabotage attempt and legitimate claim.

Might sound nebbish, but an overnight situation might make way for a morning that isn’t cheery bright anymore. Remember, the show never stops, as long as YOU breathe.

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