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Monday, May 13, 2013

The "I Love You" Box

Several things triggered the need for this post... my husband coming home after nine months, reintegrating said spouse into the family, adjusting to not being a single parent again, and the web series "Welcome to Sanditon" starring Gigi Darcy from "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" both written by Bernie Su.

An odd combination? Not really. SANDITON was an unfinished novel written by acclaimed author Jane Austen (the creator of Elizabeth Bennet of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE fame). Jane started the novel the winter prior her death and never completed it. Death isn't something the under-50 set talks about a lot. It's certainly not something covered by my education. I learned how to titrate things and dissect Russian literature but never how to plan for my death, which strikes me as a little impractical as I write this. Shouldn't setting up a will be part of economics in year nine?

I think people are afraid to talk about death, as if avoiding the word can somehow save them from the inevitable. SPOILER ALERT! It can't.

And I'm at an age now where I've seen the fallout of sudden death in families. I've seen mothers unexpectedly taken from their families by car accidents. I've seen husbands who left widows who were barely out of college. It happens. It happens without warning or thought. A careless choice on the part of someone who often walks away unscathed leaves a family without daughter or son, husband or wife, mother or father.

Which is why everyone - regardless of age - needs an I Love You box for everyone you leave behind.

I talked about this on Twitter a few weeks ago and very few people seemed familiar with this idea, so let me break it down. The I Love You box is everything your family/parents/roommate/friends will need to handle your worldly affairs after you kick the proverbial bucket:
- Will
- living will
- list of bills
- list of medicines for kids/pets
- names, phone numbers, and addresses for doctors, dentists, vets, piano teachers, church, whatever
- your family/personal schedule (Muffy gets walked at 7, 1, and 9 ... The toddler gets juice at lunch but not after 4pm)
- bank account information
- passwords for any of your online accounts (so that family can leave a note or the accounts can be closed/pictures retrieved)
- anything else you think your family/friends should know
- pictures, last notes, video of you... something to say goodbye

I can't stress the will and living will enough.

What happens to you if you're knocked into a non-responsive coma by some drunk on the motorway? Do you want to linger there, brain dead, for weeks or years or do you want someone to pull the plug and let your body die? Without a living will your family could wind up not doing what you want, and it is your body. Even if you think everyone knows put it in writing, nobody is at their best during a crisis and arguments flare up over lots of things, don't let this be one of them.

No, no one wants to sit down and have a conversation at 23 about where they will be buried if they die suddenly, but if you're in a serious relationship you need to have that conversation.

For you creative types, make sure you state in your will who receive royalties, who will be in charge of your books, and what will happen to your unpublished work. As much as you love your family they may not be the best choice for handling rights to the books (although leaving them the royalties is probably a good idea if you like them).

No matter what you'd like to believe you aren't invincible. You aren't immortal. Don't leave everyone you love with a mess because you planned to do it "when I get old." I got bad news for you, kiddo. If you're old enough to read this blog you are old enough to need an I Love You box. Make it your weekend project, and remember not to drive intoxicated, drunk, or texting. Hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and check twice for motorcycles so we can all arrive alive.


  1. Weird. We went to a funeral today - my husband's uncle - and afterwards we both said to each other we should discuss funeral plans and the like.

    1. It's a sign... but try not to die on me. Just put everything in order, make your wills, and watch out for crazies.

  2. Heck, I came very close to dying last summer (as it was I was in the ICU for 3 days).

    You never know.

    1. I remember that, it was scary. Don't do that again!

  3. When my hubby and I first started going together and he asked me to marry him, our next conversation was about how to handle raising any kids, what to do if we broke up at various stages, and how we wanted to be buried and our funerals arranged.

    We picked up the will kits to fill out and changed them as needed (for instance, our daughter no longer needs a guardian). We updated them when we moved a year and a half ago. We won't need to update them unless something changes. We even have the care of the cats covered.

    All of our accounts, their IDs, passwords, security questions and answers, are in two books. Because it's always a good idea to have backups.