Many women — and men — are blindsided by the death of a spouse, because couples rarely talk about the inevitable.
When you are at your most vulnerable, you must make choices that will have an enduring impact. Should the body be cremated or preserved? What type of service and where will it be held? Will he or she be buried in a hometown family plot or in a national cemetery many miles away?
To be better prepared for these difficult decisions, take time to have that important conversation with your spouse and your children about death and what happens after death. This conversation is a gift of love that each member of a marriage or family makes to the other.
Resources are available on MOAA.org and other websites that will help you have those conversations and make planning for the unknown perhaps a little easier. Find out who your local veteran service officer is, get to know them before you really need them, and then make sure they are the first on your list to contact.
Ask your chapter to schedule at least one meeting each year where these issues are discussed. MOAA, the Surviving Spouse Advisory Council, and your surviving spouse liaison can provide members with a wealth of information.
Steps to take:
- Encourage members and spouses to talk to each other about end-of-life issues and ways to prepare.
- Prepare and organize important documents (such as DD Form 214, wills, living will, durable power of attorney, insurance policies, birth/marriage certificates, passwords, bank account and investment information).
- Make sure utilities are in both names.
- Open a credit card account in your name.
- Establish eligibility for burial in a VA National Cemetery.
- Make a list of helpful resources, including MOAA, the VA, AARP.org, Military OneSource, MOAA Minnesota Chapter “The Day After Calls,” MOAA’s Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter, and MOAA’s Surviving Spouses and Friends Facebook group.
As spouse and surviving spouse, it is important you think about yourself and your survivors and the things they will need to know. Be prepared!
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