In a crisis, your body often goes into “survival mode,” taking things one day, or perhaps even just one hour, at a time. It’s your body’s physical and emotional response to a crisis, in order to survive until things go ‘back to normal,’ or in many cases, ‘back to a new normal.’
If you have ever experienced this before, then you know that the last thing you’d want is to have added stresses in a crisis. We see this often in the days after a death. Loved ones focus their energy on what they need to do, often having to push emotions aside just to make it through to the next task. There’s no room for additional stress.
Although this can be disheartening, it also can be avoided. Planning ahead is the best chance at protecting your loved ones from the additional stress and pain during an already difficult time.
Below we’ve listed the Top Three Ways to Protect Loved Ones in a Crisis:
Consider your wishes and their emotions.
Create the necessary documents; wills, estate plans, powers of attorney, trusts and more. Having these documents in place will save loved ones from potential legal fees, family conflicts, uncertainty in your wishes being followed, and additional stresses.
In order to jumpstart your planning, think about what it is you want, then take a moment to think of what would help your loved ones most. Don’t forget that you are also trying to give loved ones ‘emotional protection’ as well.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What life-sustaining measures should/should not be taken as you near the end of your life?
- Do you have specific end-of-life wishes such as organ donation, burial, cremation?
- What is the legacy you wish to leave behind?
Here are questions that support your loved ones:
- Who can make decisions for you if you are unable to do so?
- Who can care for your children if you died before they turned 18?
- How can your loved ones honor your memory in a way that helps them begin the grieving process?
Organize. Organize. Organize.
Organize and place all important documents together. This includes tax returns, mortgage, retirement accounts, bank accounts, passwords, wills, powers of attorney, funeral or cremation plans and more. Place copies of these documents either digitally (on a thumb drive or on the cloud) or physically in a safe place (a lock box at a bank is a great option, as long as loved ones have access). Don’t forget to mention where the original copies are stored, which can cause detrimental delays if time is needed to find them in a crisis.
Tell loved ones what you have done.
Have a discussion (or a few) with your loved ones. Share where important documents are located. If you don’t have everything planned yet, and you’re still working on some documents, be sure to mention that as well. If a crisis does strike and a loved one needs any or all information, they can rest easy knowing that you’ve organized all that you have, taking out the work in hunting and guessing for information that may not even exist.
PRO TIP: While you’re telling loved ones of the location of your important documents, why not also share the reasoning behind some of your decisions. In a crisis, not only knowing your wishes, but why you chose your wishes will bring comfort to those you love most.
If during this pandemic you feel like you are living hour-by-hour, stuck in survival mode, don’t panic. These top three ways to protect your loved ones are not an all-or-nothing deal. Find one achievable task that you want to start with.
- Perhaps it’s finding and organizing your family’s medical records.
- Maybe it’s simply listing the contact information for the companies you use frequently for your home or pet (landscaping, plumbing, veterinarian, etc).
- Maybe it’s having a hard conversation with your sibling about end-of-life plans.
Finding one task that you can start and complete will provide a bit of peace of mind as well as a sense of accomplishment. If a crisis hits, your loved ones will benefit from whatever amount of planning you are able to create.
“Every little thing counts in a crisis.”
– Jawaharlal Nehru