Friday, March 23, 2012

The Power of a Payment

In part of my daytime job role I deal with extreme sadness. Some days, like today, I leave my desk with a battered spirit and arrive home with a broken heart.

I am the person who calls you after your mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter dies. I am the person who helps you to get all the paperwork in order and helps make sure that the life insurance cheque gets delivered. It's not what I do all day but I always have at least one family on my desk, sometimes I have four and they are all hard.

There are two sides to a death. The side you see; the tears, the  mourning, the hugs, the flowers, family, friends, ceremony and trimmings. Then there is the business side of death the side you don't see until you are the one charged with settling your loved one's last wishes. That side is clinical. There are rules, there are regulations, there are expenses and paperwork that all the kind hearted, compassionate people in the world cannot take that away.

Before entering my current position I will admit I didn't really see the value of Life Insurance. It was a requirement of life to meet the contractual obligation to the mortgage company. Quite frankly it was an extra payment that I could really have done without. (for a little while we even did) We were 20 something with no plans to depart this world and no worries that it might happen against our will. The thought never really crossed my mind what would happen if I did die.What that would look like for those left behind, who would pay for my funeral, how my husband would pay the bills? How long would it be before he would have to be back to work full time?

Then I helped deliver my very first insurance cheque to a family. I was terrified the first time I had to pick up the phone. I didn't want to tell this man who had just lost his wife that I needed a form completed and an original death certificate. I didn't want to bother him and reduce his wife to a pile of paperwork, but I had to, otherwise he would never get the insurance payment .

The insurance payment that he really needed. His wife dying kept him from work, provided overnight, a series of bills totaling well into the thousands of dollars. I was uptight every time I picked up the phone to update him on the progress. I felt terrible the day I called him to let him know that I had his $25,000 cheque. Then he said Thank you, with a audible sigh of grief and peace choked together. He wanted to be glad that he was released from his financial burdens but the reality of his wife's life equating to a dollar figure was a lot to bare.

I will never ever forget the heartfelt gratitude that came from this man when I met him in person. I was in awe, how could someone facing this insurmountable anguish find gratitude.  I thought that this man was extraordinary. I came to realize that genuine deep felt gratitude was a common denominator among those left behind. A gratitude not felt by those left behind without the recourse of life insurance and holding the bills and the worry.

Suddenly the job I was doing seemed very real, very necessary. I could see the other side of death the business side and the very real effects of that monthly payment into thin air.

As soon as we are born we begin dieing, it is the only inevitability and the when is the greatest of uncertainty. Life Insurance is something nobody likes to talk about, no one wants to think about their loved one leaving. Some people even think that the discussion is inviting bad luck. I can tell you this, not dealing with the conversation has the potential to induce more harm and heartache than you can imagine.

Today was a bad day for dealing with sad people. It would make me feel much better if I knew everyone reading this took the steps to talk to their Insurance guy, make sure you will be leaving your family with a legacy and a gift not a burden and a greater heartache.