One morning at a meeting of the breakfast club to which Sandy and I had belonged for more than 20 years, Sandy told me that she was having a difficult time dealing with many of the matters which arose following the death of her husband, Raymond.
She said a reference guide would be very helpful and asked me why no one had ever written a book about “who to call and what to do” when a family member dies. I didn’t have an answer.
For at least six months prior to his death, Raymond had known that he had incurable cancer. Yet in the last months and days of his life, he made no effort to put his affairs in order or prepare Sandy and their adult children to deal with the consequences of his death.
When Raymond died, as expected, Sandy and the family were left clueless. They had no idea where vital documents such as a Will, insurance documents, property deeds, and military service records were located. Moreover, when Raymond’s military retirement pay stopped on the day he died, Sandy was left in financial straits with a lack of ready cash to meet immediate needs and no regular source of income other than Social Security.
As a result, in addition to the grief of losing her spouse, Sandy had to deal with a major disruption in her life having virtually no knowledge of what to do or where to go for assistance.
Thinking about the question Sandy asked that morning at breakfast, I realized that the death of a family member, especially a spouse, is in many ways, similar to a major corporate business disruption. Having been a business continuity and disaster recovery consultant to Fortune 500 companies and numerous government agencies and businesses for more than 25 years, I knew that many of the concepts and principles I had learned and used to develop contingency and disaster recovery plans for major corporations and government agencies would apply to a death in the family.
I contacted my business partner, Tommye White, and asked if she’d consider helping me write a manual about dying.
Tommye has as much, if not more experience than I do in helping public and private organizations prepare for a major business disruption and avert the potentially disastrous consequences.
She agreed to help, and together we began researching and documenting what a person should do to put their personal affairs in order before they pass on, and identifying the issues with which the family of a recently deceased loved one would have to cope. As a result, this manual was born.