The Gift of Dying Alone

Susan Kelley
6 min readDec 15, 2021

As they say, the only things that are certain are death and taxes.

Photo by Sam Marx on Unsplash

I emailed my ex-husband with my annual update about which elections I’d made on my insurance, so he’d know what coverages the kids had for dental and vision, that sort of thing. I’ve been doing this ever since we divorced, especially since our kids moved from teenagers to young adults, and now we have twentysomethings and one of our kids is old enough that he’s not covered on our insurance at all.

We also have life insurance for the kids, purchased as an investment when they were babies, with super-low premiums, that they can pick up paying for when they’re older, guaranteeing them low cost life insurance when they’re older. I also feel like it’s the grown-up thing to do to let him know if I’ve substantially changed things when it comes to my own life insurance, since that impacts the kids. Neither of us is currently remarried, so really the kids are the only ones impacted.

When I emailed him with these updates, he responded in kind, informing me that our younger kids, per our divorce agreement, are still covered on his medical insurance, and that all three are equal-share beneficiaries of his pension, but then I stopped short in my tracks when I read that he no longer carries a whole-life policy. I’ve always considered it my obligation to take care of what my financial guy called my “final expenses.” But I guess he didn’t. Doesn’t.

I know lots of people find it terribly uncomfortable to think about, much less talk about, their own demise. That’s unfortunate, really. And it’s sometimes devastating to those who have to handle it once they’re gone.

No matter what we think happens at the time of our deaths or after, we all have a certain obligation to recognize that it absolutely will happen, sooner or later. As they say, the only things that are certain are death and taxes.

My ex’s disclosure that he has made no financial plan for when he dies, that he has left that entire burden to his kids, was alarming enough to me that I took a moment to discuss it with my daughter, only to tell her that it’s something she should be aware of. After all, if he spends down much or all of his pension funds, she and her brothers will have to anticipate paying for whatever funeral they want to provide, and…

Susan Kelley

Susan is a runner, a mom of 3 grown children, and an avid traveler. She writes about humans, and wrote a book about false accusations of sexual assault.