talking about death with your spouse

Four Critical Conversations to Have With Your Spouse Now

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Ann Bacciaglia

Ann Bacciaglia

       Losing a spouse is a life-altering event. Some couples have time to prepare for the inevitable while others have no time at all. Darin died suddenly at the young age of 44. Death and dying were not things that we ever discussed. I knew he had written a will but that was the extent of our discussions. In my case, I had no time to prepare for my husband’s death and I learned many lessons from that experience that I would like to share. Here are some steps I recommend taking sooner rather than later:

1. Have a will. I often ask people if they have a will. Most of the time I hear “no”. When I ask why, people tell me they keep thinking about it but have not made one yet. But this is important: you need a will! Is it a depressing thing to thing about? Yes, but you need to have one in order for your estate and affairs to be settled according to your wishes.

2. Discuss final wishes. Shortly after Darin died, I remember being asked if he wanted to be cremated or buried. I had no clue and was very upset that I did not know. How could I be married to someone for 17 years and not know such an important detail? Luckily, Darin and our daughter had talked about it one day. When she told me his wishes, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. Save yourself that additional stress in an extremely emotional moment. Discuss your wishes with your spouse. Let them know if you want to be cremated or buried, and would like a funeral or a celebration of life. This discussion will save a lot of stress for the surviving spouse.

3. Share passwords. I cannot emphasize this enough. Make a list of all your passwords and keep it in a central spot that is known to the important people in your life. After Darin died, I remember searching his papers for all our passwords. He did all the banking and I never paid attention. Luckily, I knew where he kept the important ones so I did not have to spend valuable time searching everywhere.

4. Discuss bills, payments and banking details. On top of dealing with incredible grief, the surviving spouse also has to cope with everyday tasks. You may not be the one who normally pays the bills and takes care of household management. Write a list of all your accounts, along with account numbers, passwords and due dates. This will help immensely. I remember trying to get a grip on paying the bills and had no clue what our account numbers were. My advice is to discuss this task. Spend time together reviewing monthly bills, payment schedules, banking account information as well as credit card details.

No one likes to think about death. As a result, we often neglect to have important discussions that are necessary. By completing the steps outlined above, you will be able to alleviate some stress and know that important details have been discussed with your spouse.

Ann is a widow and single mom. She is learning how to live chapter 2 of her life and is sharing her journey on her blog, Kickass Living Blog

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