Showing posts with label Death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Death. Show all posts

Dec 17, 2012

How Much Should We Shelter Children?

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.
Therefore be as shrewd as snakes
and as innocent as doves."

Last Friday, as the news of the massacre in Connecticut was streaming in, I struggled with how much to tell my children. Once upon a time, I probably wouldn't have said a word. But that was before. Before I'd read that teenagers had no idea who Osama bin Laden was. Before I saw painful videos of teens not really being able to say what 9/11 was about. Clearly, these kids were sheltered too much.

I also believe there is a huge difference between sheltering our children on such matters as debauchery and sheltering them about the evil they can expect to face as their lives progress. Not preparing our children to live in a world that, as the Bible predicts, will only become more evil is not only cruel, but may cause their faith to fail when they need it most.

So, when my 7 year old caught me crying as I read the news, and when she asked me why, I discussed it with her. I think there are several keys to making this work:

* Be straightforward, but don't offer up more information than the child needs. Don't go into details - especially gory ones.

* One or two sentences is usually all that's necessary.

* Ask your child what she thinks about what you've just told her. If needed, guide her to what the Bible says on the matter.

* Ask her if she has questions. Answer them as simply as possible, again, not giving more details than necessary.

* End with a prayer.

I should note I did not talk to my 4 year old about the news. He's not yet mature enough to even begin to understand. But we must be careful not to wait too long, friends, or we may suddenly find they are adults and we have neglected our duty to prepare them.

Oct 24, 2011

Your Will (Without Spending a Fortune)

I suppose it's human nature to put off writing a will - especially if we consider ourselves young and healthy. But we all know God could call us up to him any time, and not having a will can make things much more complicated for those we leave behind.*

My brother didn't have a will, which made me kick myself for putting off my own will-making for so long. I encourage you to stop putting it off, too. Whether you're concerned about the cost (which can be next to nothing) or you simply don't like thinking about your death, it's important to get your will completed. Your children and family will thank you for it later.

Will vs. Legal Trust

The first step is to make sure a will is the best choice for you. A living trust is often recommended, because it prevents the estate from going into probate - which is a way of saying the court system has at least some control of what happens to your children and your property. However, laws regarding wills and legal trusts vary from state to state. To determine whether it's smarter to have a will or a living trust in your particular state, it's best to consult a lawyer in your region. Usually, a question like this can be answered with a simple phone call and a small fee. (You can read more about will vs. living trusts at Legal Zoom.)

But if making this choice is going to keep you from getting your wishes on paper, it's better to just write a will. Even if your family must go through probate, at least they'll have an excellent idea of what your wishes are. And a will is easy to create on your own, for little or nothing.

Wills for Every Budget

There are several choices for will-writing:

1. Find a free example online and copy it. Ideally, you'll find a will appropriate for the state you live in. These are pretty easy to find if you Google "free sample will" and the name of your state. However, there's no guarantee the sample will is legally up to snuff. But again, if you don't want to spend money on a will right now, this sort of will is far better than having no will at all.

2. Pay under $50 for a will form. Again, these are easy to find by Googling "will form" and the name of your state, but it's tough to say how sound such wills are.

3. Go to Legal Zoom and get the paperwork done for a small fee. Legal Zoom guarantees the will (or living trust) will be up to snuff and they charge under $70 (at the time of this writing) - far cheaper than hiring a lawyer.

4. Hire a lawyer in your area. This usually costs several hundred dollars, but you may feel more comfortable that the contents of the will or legal trust won't be called into question.

What to Cover:

There are three basic things you'll want to make sure are covered in your will:

1. Who will be the guardian of your children. (List at least two choices, in case one person is unable to take the children at the time of your death.)

2. Who will get your property.

3. How you would like your body cared for after death.

Finalizing the Will

Once the will is complete, you'll need to gather together some witnesses. All the options listed about should indicate how many witnesses are needed. But remember: The witnesses should not be named in your will.

Together with your witnesses, visit a notary. Banks provide this service for a small fee - or for free - if you bank at that location. The notary will watch as you and your witnesses sign the will, then he or she will notarize the document.

Keep the original document in a safety deposit box or fire safe in your home, and distribute copies to your siblings and anyone named who might take guardianship over your children.

It took me just a half hour to type up a copy of a will for both myself and my husband, and it takes just minutes to have it notarized. The cost is $0 on up, depending upon whether you hire an attorney and depending upon how many assets you have. And in return, you'll have peace of mind.

* I am not a lawyer, and you should not consider this post legal advice.

Aug 31, 2011

No Fear of Death

I don't want to go on and on about my brother Don's death, but at the same time it feels weird to mention it once to you, then move on to more mundane topics. And I really want to tell you a bit about what a gift it was to be by his side when he passed.

Different people have very different reactions to sickness and death. Even Christians, who know in their heads and hearts that their loved ones are going to a place of love and joy, often have trouble knowing how to react when someone is dying. I admit I have a tendency to think the death of my loved ones won't come soon - even if I've been told otherwise. I think it's human nature to cling to what we know and to those we love.

And even though I was really worried about leaving my children behind, and though my 2 year old (who'd never been separated from me for any length of time) is now clingy and sensitive, I am so glad I dropped everything to be with my brother. Those who were beside him when he passed all agree: It was a gift. A gift from Don, and a gift from God.

Don woke up suddenly, after many hours of being out. He thrust his arms to either side of him. My sister grabbed one of his hands and I grabbed the other. First my sister said she loved him and he said as much with his eyes. Then it was my turn. Finally, he looked to my niece, who was reading Scriptures to him. We knew he was saying "I love you" and "goodbye until we see each other again" even though he didn't speak a word.

Then Don rolled over onto one side and we watched as he left his body. We got down on our knees and prayed for his welcome in Heaven.

It wasn't always easy to see him passing, but it gave us an intimacy with him unlike any other. It's also brought those of us who shared those moments an intimacy with each other that's brought us closer together - and, I think, to God.

If you have the opportunity to stay with someone you love while they pass, I encourage you to do so. It can be such a beautiful thing.