Facing The Possibility Of Death – Grown Up Life Is Hard.

Why don’t we see ourselves as adults? I don’t know about you, but when I realise I’m doing something considered ‘grown up’ I do look around, feeling a fraud, wondering when the grown ups will show up to come handle it for me…

And yet.
Here I am.
A 40-something mother to four, running a business, paying the bills, clearing a mortgage…
It appears Grown Up-ness was sneaking up on me while I was busy getting on with life.

This post contains affiliate links – you don’t pay any more, but I may earn a teensy smidge of commission (which frankly just helps my coffee habit). But I never recommend something to you I wouldn’t recommend to my sister. And yes, I do love my sister.

childish grown ups
Yes, we are, in fact, real live actual grown ups.

I realised it last week, when I not only made an appointment with the bank, but also turned up to that appointment, and had a discussion with the mortgage advisor about the next ten years (our handy guide to the mortgage process here), answering all of her queries with confidence, asking intelligent questions of my own and actually understanding the answers. I know. ME!

There are certain times in your life when you just have to face up to the tricky grown up stuff, though, isn’t there? Once we had our second child, we realised that we really needed to discuss what might happen to them should we suddenly be hit by a bus (why’s it always a bus? There aren’t even many buses around here – we’re far more likely to be hit by a tractor on our road…). Once we started to talk it through, we each had surprisingly strong opinions on what we wanted to happen in the event of our demise. We went so far as to call the friends and family we wanted to be involved and ask their permissions, and then we went ahead and made an appointment with a local solicitor who guided us through making a will, which contains exactly what we want to happen about the guardianship of our children.

I was really surprised then, to see the Post Office research this week which says that most UK adults have not discussed the guardianship of their children (76%), their funeral wishes (63%) or how they would like their assets divided among loved ones (53%) in the event of their death; even fewer have a formal agreement in place for these considerations.


Am I that much more of a grown up than the rest of my generation?

We’re all the same pretend grownups, aren’t we? Image courtesy of Shutterstock

It’s hard to imagine. And yet – these are just not subjects we discuss easily here in Britain. Death is not a subject that comes up in polite conversation. Maybe if it did we could all prepare more, and better, for a future that doesn’t contain ourselves.

Because I’m at that point in life where swimming on and presuming that it’ll ‘all work out okay’ really just doesn’t cut it. There are a lot of things riding on things ‘just turning out okay’, and taking that set of facts for granted really won’t do anymore. What happens if I suddenly get ill and can’t work? One side effect of ageing is the loss of that invincibility of youth. You see friends become ill, hear of friends-of-friends lose their lives to cancer, parents begin to look frail, or worse orphan you…  and without knowing what happened you find yourself lying awake at two in the morning, all too aware of how potentially fragile your life really is.

unhappy woman image courtesy of Shutterstock

And while in your youth you may have wallowed in the odd pit of sorrow as to how sad it would be to die, as you get older (and life gets filled with responsibilities I guess) what keeps you awake at night is the worry about what would happen to everybody you’d leave behind if something does happen to you. How will they keep going? Not just emotionally, but in a very practical sense – where will they live? Without me earning the money, how will they even EAT?

I know, it sounds melodramatic sitting here at my desk feeling perfectly healthy at three in the afternoon with a hot cup of tea (thank you, son of mine, you’re my current favourite child) and my family happily pottering around me. But it’s actually something we discussed many years ago, once we started working for ourselves. Because our ability to just keep going can be affected by so very many things far outside of our own control. I can look after myself, eat healthily, exercise well… and yet still suffer cancer or get struck by a bus tractor.

Once we stopped working for other people and became responsible for our own income, we had to face the facts that our future, and that of our families, relies on us. There is no Master General of a Paycheck who will see them okay – it’s all on us now. And we were also aware that the sooner we did something about it the better. Ten years ago we investigated our options, and decided that life insurance was the way to go.  Once again we took the bull by the horns and got some sorted. Even though we run our own business, we sleep comfortably at night, knowing that if that tractor does its worst, then the family won’t have money issues to deal with too.

Life insurance is simply a way of helping your family cope financially when you die – it’s not a savings plan, it’s just there so that if your family is robbed of you (and your money-earning ways), then you can still provide for them; clear debts, pay off the mortgage and simply make that part of life a little easier.

That same Post Office research shows that the average UK family could only sustain their lifestyle for less than two months – 46 days – if they were to suddenly lose their main income, according to new research from Post Office Insurance.

If you, like us, are one of the 4.3million people in the UK running a non-employing business (76% of businesses do not employ anyone aside from the owner) then you’ll know that middle of the night sick feeling when you realise, deep in your insides, that’s it’s all on you. When you run your own business, you don’t get to have an off day. A quiet month. And with no contingency plan in place, heaven help you if you dare to get seriously ill.

A couple of years ago I contracted whooping cough (I know. Who knew it was even still a thing?). Nothing hideously serious, certainly nothing terminal… but I don’t recall ever feeling so ill. I fell ill in the January, and didn’t stop coughing until June. And I didn’t earn a thing for three of those months. Just getting through each day was enough for me to deal with. It was tough – but it made me so bloody grateful that should it have been any of the far more deeply serious illnesses I was busy Googling at two in the morning on the nights I couldn’t sleep, my lack of earnings wouldn’t have been a worry.

How about you – do you have a contingency plan in place?

Actually, that research is probably a good place to start; try the Post Office’s Life Insurance Calculator and find out how much that peace of mind might cost you.

This post has been supported by The Post Office but as always, all thoughts are my own.

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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