Hi! I’m Hannah and my husband died. Most of you already know that story. If you don’t, you can click here to catch up! Today, I am sharing my unprofessional, yet very experienced advice on the things you should do just before or right after getting married so that when (not if) you or your spouse die, your life doesn’t have to become a huge mess like mine did.
This post is going to be a little different from my last few. I want to talk about relationships. We all know I lost my husband at a young age and I had to sort of start over. What you may not know are the struggles I faced during that time as a newlywed that was going through this. So, today I want to give you my top three tips for preparing to lose your spouse. There isn’t a double standard here. I’m remarried now, so these things apply to me as much as anyone else. My second husband is still kicking, and (knock on wood) doesn’t have any health concerns as of yet. You know, besides driving me crazy every once in a while. Don’t think you are immune to the unlikely. I never in my life thought I would be a widow at 23 and remarried at 25. Don’t live in fear, but don’t live in ignorance either. I can speak from experience. Losing a spouse already sucks, but being unprepared for that is even worse.
I’m here to tell you the top three things you should do right before or immediately after you get married to the person you hope to spend the rest of your life with. Remember – these things apply to you no matter your age! Whether you’re getting married for the first time at 21 or getting married for the fourth time at 65, you owe it to yourself and to your spouse to do these things. Here’s the deal – just because your plan is to get married, buy a house, have all the babies, and live happily ever after does not mean that it’s actually going to happen. In fact, I got married, lived in a 600 square foot apartment, bought a house, tried to have a baby, didn’t have a baby, and became a widow all before I turned the ripe, young age of 24. If you think that all of that was a part of my plan, then you and I have very different ideas of life. It’s not all bad though. I did get remarried at the age of 25 and while I might not have any babies yet, I do have a puppy that I adore just about as much as I assume you can adore a child. All of that said, who better to tell you how to prepare to be a widow than a widow herself. Former widow, that is.
*Side note* This is where I need to make a point that will probably be off putting to many people, but I just have to say it. If you are a human being that participates in committed romantic relationships, the chances that you or your significant other become a widow/widower at some point in life are very high. There are two ways that marriages end: divorce or death. It’s that simple. Is it sad? Sure, but that does not discredit the fact that you should be prepared for your spouse to die and vice versa. The way I see it, I am doing my current husband a service, giving him a gift in fact, by preparing him for the day that I die and he keeps living. And I am expecting the same from him. *Side note over*
- Let’s talk about wills. A will is a legal document that one creates, usually with the assistance of a lawyer, so that in the event that they perish (that means die) your loved ones know what to do with your earthly belongings. Whether you own nothing at the start of your marriage, or you own 5 houses and 15 vehicles, you and your spouse should have a will drawn up as soon as possible. My first husband died within 10 months of our wedding day. Did we have a will? No. Was my life hell because of it? Absolutely. We didn’t even own very much, but because we didn’t have a will, I was forced to follow rules of the state and go through a long drawn out process that could have been handled a lot quicker if we had just had a will.
- Let’s talk about money. I could go on and on discussing this topic, but I’ll try to keep it short. It’s expensive to die. I’m very thankful that my first husband’s family helped with medical bills and funeral expenses, because had they not been able to help, my first husband would not have received the honorable services that he deserved. Did you know that if you go to a hospital and the treatment that they give you does not work, you still have to pay for it? Did you know that it cost money to be buried? Cremated? The second you are married, find the best life insurance you can and buy it. If it’s offered through your employer, take it. If you can find it through a private insurance company, purchase it. The more, the better. But, don’t stop there. Starting growing your savings account! In the event that you or your spouse are out of work, having 6+ months of expenses saved up could be the difference between you keeping your home or not. Not only do you have afterlife expenses to take care of when your spouse passes, but you also have to maintain your mortgage, rent, utility bills, etc. Guess what calling your electric company and telling them your husband died does for your bill? Nothing. What does it get you? A get well soon card at best. (This is a true story, and yes, I did say get well soon.)
- Let’s talk about afterlife care. It is not cute or sexy to ask your husband of 2 weeks what he wants done with his body if he dies, but do it anyway. Ask for the details. What type of medical care do they want to receive if they were to become unresponsive? How long do they want to receive life support? What do they want to be done with their body after they pass? These are all things that are super uncomfortable to talk about, but will make your life so much easier in the long run. At the age of 23, I had no idea how long to allow my husband to remain on life support. On day 14, I had to look at the doctors and tell them to let him go, hoping that I was making the decision that he would want me to make. Don’t let that be you. I’ve struggled with guilt and the what-if’s. The tough conversations are worth it if it means avoiding the heartache that this brings. (Sorry. I wish I had a good joke to make that sound better, but the truth is that it just sucks.)
I know there are more things that can and should be done in early marriage in order to prepare for this, but these are the top three that stick with me. Now, am I a perfect wife that got remarried and immediately ran to my nearest lawyer to draw up a will? No. But these are the thing that I prioritize now. These are the things that I make sure are covered, because we just don’t know how life is going to play out.
Of these three things, which do you think would most affect you? Is there something I’m missing? Let me know what your thoughts are and let’s start the conversation.