Look Up, Be Happy, Be Informed…
Look up, be happy is my way of keeping a positive outlook in the darkness of tragic loss. I also pray that it may lead others, who must go down this horrific path, or like circumstances, to keep faith and hope. Unfortunately, in our darkest moments, is the time that many find the light. I am not saying losing a child ever gets easier, but it does change. The following information is that which I pray gives room to thought and planning for a new life, with adult children, age 18 years or older.
We still looked at our son, as a child and thought of him that way, even at 19, when he was a capable young man. I believe most parents do. Little did we know, that we had not managed the legal aspect of having a young adult. Connor was our child, right? What could happen to to our smart, happy, adventurous, well adjusted son? At 18 years old, why would we even think about a will for our son, or life insurance? As parents, we do not plan to outlive our children, at least we pray we don’t.
When you are choosing a college, as I venture to say, that most do not think of the following…What level of care does the hospital in the town have? If there is an serious accident, will they be able to help my child? If you are in a small town, will the town respond to such a tragedy as the death of a young adult, or will things drag on for months with no answers? Will you have to drive hours upon hours, to be face to face, because the phone calls would not get through? These are all issues I would have never imagined.
If something were to happen to your financially dependent 19 year old college student, will anyone tell you details of what happened? Guess what? There are privacy laws that prohibit you, the parents, from information on your completely dependent student. We learned in a college orientation for parents, that we could not get our students grades in college, unless he signed a release. Of course he signed them, he knew where his help came from. The privacy for your adult college student, includes ANY medical information, including an accident. Can you be told if he was conscious when help arrived on the scene? Did someone call 911 right away? How long did it take for the EMT’s to get there? Please pay the medical bills right away…but we will NOT release any information to you, due to privacy. So sorry!
Does your 18 year old have a “Last Will and Testament?” This should state…that they leave all that they have…to you as parents, if there are no dependents. What could my adult college student have, you say? They could possibly have insurance that you pay for, on which your student is listed as a dependent. Let’s just say, that insurance needs to be put into action, due to an accident. Without a “will” you may very well not get, in full, your own insurance protection that you pay for. If they are out of college, single and have assets, will you be able to handle it all without this important document? If medical bills are involved, and you have already paid your deductibles for the year…who gets the first rights to insurance money (other than life insurance) that may come your way due to loss? Your own medical insurance has first dibs. The company that you pay that large monthly amount to for years can come back after anything and everything they pay out. This would include emergency rooms, physicians, ambulance all fighting to save your adult child’s life, for which you are grateful. For example, one fifty minute helicopter ride attempting to save your young adults life could cost $35,000.00. For some, the helicopter company may be the first one to call and send letters telling that they will not process the claim with insurance unless you sign a form. This form may say that you will pay in full, if your insurance does not. They could refuse to submit a claim, even though others do, without your signature. In time, they may submit the claim, but possibly only after weeks of harassment for your signature, in addition to your loss.
Do you have life insurance on your children? No one wants to think about this, but we all need it. Could you call your insurance agent and get the answers you desperately need in a time of distress? Do you have or know an attorney or a firm that you could call on a moments notice that would step up to the plate when you are not thinking clearly due to a tragedy? Will they follow through and help you get answers and guide you through a process you know nothing about? When circumstances in your life are spinning, is there someone you would be able to call and get solid action? We are talking about basic information here, not a lawsuit.
Did you know that when you give birth or adopt a child…most companies allow six weeks to adjust to your new life. How much time will you be allowed if your child dies? One or two weeks, if you are blessed. “Family Medical Leave Act” you say? It must be approved and only if you are not considered a “key employee” that could cause economic injury to your company. You may or may not get your job back if you “leave to grieve.” Most people with tragic loss of life are eligible for Family Medical Leave Act for up to twelve weeks without pay. Yes, it is available, but many know that their specific job will not be there, upon their return.
I share these thoughts with you, not in complaint, but in sheer hope that you may plan for your adult children. If no one tells you these things, you’d never know. We certainly did not. I pray with all my heart that you never need any of this information. Please know, that as I write this today, 230 days since Connor left us, it is in hopes of a better informed parent tomorrow.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8