While Uncomfortable, It’s Important to Discuss Worst-case Scenarios

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by Carlos Briceño |

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Some things that my wife, Jill, handles — such as paying the cable bill, for example — are tasks that I need to know how to do. Huntington’s disease eventually will affect her neurologically, but not for some time. It’s not ideal, but at least we have time to plan for our future.

We were watching a TV show recently about losing a spouse. Jill mentioned that her friends used to call her their “break in case of emergency” friend. Her friends used the phrase as a tribute: They could always count on Jill in an emergency.

Now I’ll ask you to think about an uncomfortable subject: What happens if your loved one passes away without warning? If you wake up one morning and they are gone? What do you do after the ambulance leaves? After the funeral? Life goes on, right?

In this case, “going on” means getting up each morning and dealing with day-to-day things like insurance and bills. But what if you don’t have the necessary information to do so?

Let’s start with life insurance policies. You can only make a claim if you are aware the person had a policy and have access to the paperwork. In the show Jill and I were watching, an employer told a woman that her spouse didn’t have a life insurance policy. How do you prove he did if you don’t have the paperwork? You can’t break into your spouse’s office and find the big red file marked “life insurance.”

Even those providing policies you purchase outside of work must be informed of someone’s death. If you don’t know the policy exists, you can’t collect the money your loved one paid to provide for you in the event of their passing.

You also must manage your everyday bills. Do you know who your internet provider is? Do you know how to pay that bill?

My wife has ours set to autopay, which means I need the login information. I didn’t even know the password until we started talking about it. All the login information is kept on her phone. I know how to access her phone, but what if I didn’t? How would I deal with all of it?

I would call all of the companies and take care of it eventually, but is that something anyone wants to deal with in the midst of grief? The answer is no. You don’t want to figure out all the things you don’t know while dealing with a sudden loss.

Jill and I are taking steps toward what we call our “break in case of emergency” file. We are putting together all of the things we will need if the unthinkable happens, like websites, passwords, and important paperwork.

This is an uncomfortable topic, but it is important to prepare for the future so that your loved ones aren’t left scrambling for answers. Your short-term discomfort can save them a lot of time and pain in the future.


Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


Pauline Patrick avatar

Pauline Patrick

Years ago my mother died From HD
& we did not have the resources available for a burial. We donated her brain to the HD research. When we received her body back and she was cremated. Each of her children received a small vial. When spring time came we took some of her ashes to the gravesite where her siblings had past. That day we cried and laughed with family. While we drove home as we crossed the mountain top we all saw a rainbow!
My youngest sister commented look Mom wanted to send us a message she made it to the other side. All of us have different views on death. If we can remind each of us that we in our HD family are making a difference.

Carlos Briceño avatar

Carlos Briceño

Thank you for sharing, Pauline. What a beautiful testimony to your mother -- may she rest in peace. The image of the rainbow must have been such a comfort to you and your family. You made a big difference in sharing what you did. Yes, dealing with death and suffering is not easy, but having family to share the ups and downs of the illness helps ease the sadness of when a loved one dies.


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