Life Insurance Was a Saving Grace When My Husband Died Suddenly at 37

Life Insurance Was a Saving Grace When My Husband Died Suddenly at 37

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  • My husband’s tragic death at age 37 left me crushed.
  • We didn’t have a will, but we both had life insurance. Those checks were a safety net when I needed it.
  • I used the money from his life insurance to buy a home for myself and begin to rebuild my life.

My husband and I only spoke about what would happen if one of us died on two occasions. One such occasion was when we were reviewing and comparing life insurance plans from his employer and mine. Then, the conversation was if one of us died, not when.

It turned out that when was a sunny day in June 2017.

My husband, Rémi, died very suddenly just weeks after his 37th birthday, leaving me a completely crushed widow at the age of 31.

Rémi and I had always been a great team. We lived an extraordinary life in our short 11 years together, navigating international moves, immigrating to Europe, and supporting each other through multiple career changes.

We were united in our love of planning and making plans work. And yet, we didn’t have a plan for this, the worst-case scenario. When he died, there was no will. But there was life insurance.

2 life insurance checks were my safety net

In the nightmare haze of those first weeks after my husband died, among the never-ending administrative tasks and paperwork, were conversations with life insurance providersboth his and mine.

I’ll forever be grateful to our employers for the work they did behind the scenes to make sure the funds were paid out in a timely manner. Within the first month, I received two checks from the insurance company, one in the amount of a full year of my husband’s salary and one in a much smaller amount through my own insurance plan, to help cover funeral costs.

The first check immediately went into the savings account we’d earmarked for a down payment for our first home, which we’d been contributing slowly, but steadily, over time. The second check helped me through the first six months as I adjusted my expenses and lifestyle to suit my new single income, with our family’s highest earner now gone.

To speak only of the logistics of losing my partner — and not of the total destruction I experienced in losing the love of my life — astonishingly, it could have been worse. And, it would have been worse, if our living situation had been what it was even two short years earlier.

In 2013, Rémi and I were forced to leave the beautiful life we’d worked hard to build over six years spent living in Switzerland. Our visas were unceremoniously rejected when we reapplied that year, as we did every year, and we quickly and painfully packed up our lives, returning to our home in Canada, bruised, in shock, and unemployed.

If my husband had died when we were living in Switzerland, I would have been without a support system, left alone to navigate the complicated healthcare system in my third language, and would likely have been left with a huge hospital bill for fruitless life-saving efforts. Any life insurance there may have been would have gone to paying hospital bills, shipping his body back to Canada, and funding my relocation. It would have been worse.

If Rémi had died just three years earlier, shortly after we’d returned to Canada, when he was job hunting and getting back on his feet, and I was still working as an independent dance artist, the situation would have been equally bleak. There would have been no life insurance, no steady income, no financial safety net.

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I have used the money to help rebuild my life

I’m not looking for silver linings when I consider the many ways it could have been worse. There aren’t any. The worst has happened. But there are saving graces. Life insurance was one such saving grace.

Over the years, the savings account earmarked for a down payment on a house grew, and in 2020 I put the life insurance and our previous savings toward buying my first home.

I’ve been making small but important steps toward building a new life since my husband died. Leaving city life behind to buy my first home was more of a giant leap than a small step. I now live in the safety net that my husband’s hard work, determination, and tragic death made possible. I live in the house that was meant to be ours. It’s our home.

I benefited from life insurance when I needed it most. Now, as a small business owner, I no longer have life insurance. I could purchase a policy as someone who is self-employed, but I don’t have any dependents, so it’s not high on my list of priorities. As I work to rebuild my life from the rubble of loss, I do hope to have children one day, and will make purchasing life insurance a priority when the time comes, so that if the worst happens again, at least there will be a saving grace in the form of a safety net.

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