Death, Practically Speaking, Filled with Love written by Author Paul Samuels

It happened quite by accident, not my death, but some concerning information about what my wife might have to go through if I precede her in death. I was talking to my stockbroker, Katlyn, to double check that my account was a joint stock account. I happened to mention that because of the possibility of getting Covid-19, I was in the process of setting up notes for my wife since I was the one who handled the family finances.

Katlyn was elated! She said, “I’m so glad to hear this! You have no idea how many widows call here crying because they don’t know how to deal with their husbands’, stock account or for that matter any of the other family bills. I also get calls from widowers whose wife handled the family finances.”

I took what Katlyn said to heart. I know none of us like to even think about this. But in this time of the uncertainty of Covid-19, the likelihood of an early demise is possible. I gave some serious consideration to what my passing would be like for my bride. Sure, I had life insurance to replace my income. I even had a policy on her left over from the days when our children were young which enabled me to hire someone to help her while I was at work. My wife is a smart, professional woman, but she didn’t know about the day-to-day bill handling. That was always my role. 

I had nightmares about Arlene having to deal with the computer program I used for accounting or filing for taxes.  I became quite creative to ensure that she would not have to deal with any of our finances until she wanted to take them on. I got to work on a loose-leaf binder which we call the Red Book. I listed all our credit cards, bank, gas, electric, water, mortgage payment, and any monthly on-line billing. I set these up to go directly to our checking account, then connected the checking account to our savings account as an overflow.  Each folder is clearly marked and contains all the information step by step about the bills, life insurance policies, and stock accounts. I slept soundly thinking about the loose-leaf binder safely on the shelf within her reach.

I felt so relieved. I was also happy that I could express my love to her this practical way.  Decades ago, when we were on the mission field, we had at least set up wills, and power of attorney for health care.  I know many couples and parents who have not set up their wills. Even older people like us. Please, as an act of love, at least create your will so that confusion or arguments will not be part of a family grieving process. And consider creating your own Red Book

And lastly, we faced the hardest part. After our parents died, we had, of course, talked from time to time about what each of us would want in terms of our funerals. And we also talked about how frustrating it was trying to guess what our parents would truly have wanted. 

We discussed our funeral preferences and burial including pastor, music, slides, songs, memories, and sharing from friends and family. Since I am a Navy veteran it was simple for me to get all the papers together for a memorial, or service at the National Cemetery and put that information in the binder. 

We talked with our adult children and told them about the binder in case we pass on together. They really appreciated it. None of us know our final circumstances so we wanted to cover any scenario and make things as easy as possible for them.  We also decided to help each other write our obituaries.  That was quite an experience!  It was sad to think about but also filled us with so many wonderful memories as we re-lived our life together.

These conversations and plans were not a fun process by any stretch of the imagination but both of us are so glad we did it. And so glad it is behind us! I’m sharing this with you in hopes that Katlyn, and others who deal with the public and their finances will have less widows and widowers to rescue.







The Role of Emotions in Crises

Clearly, the breach at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 has intensified our nation’s multiple crises amid an already traumatized population. We have faced the effects of an uncertain and erratic virus which has turned our way of life upside down. In my viewpoint, many of our citizens were already experiencing some degree of post-traumatic stress due to Covid-19 and its destructive effects. That’s reflected in  Covid-19 deaths, and the rise of  heartbreaking suicides, addictions, and poor mental health.

Since the election, and now the events of this week, many of our citizens were already fragile. So I want to address how emotions affect crises and point our Christian community to scriptures that will guide us. And help us to help others as best we can with the Lord’s guidance. Believe me, I am talking to myself too.

The current chaos of anger, accusations, violence, name-calling, unfriending, and slander is worsened by hysteria. It’s the engineer right now on a speeding locomotive of emotion on steroids. Hysteria is a dangerous engineer when it comes to gathering facts, making decisions, and keeping our country on secure tracks that will end with a destination of good, positive results.

When I was on staff for nine years with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC) I often reminded our wonderful activists, “Remember, our passions must be governed by wisdom.” (Our passion then, and now, for millions of us evangelicals is to advocate for the safety and security of Israel.)  

Governing our passions with wisdom does not mean erasing our values which we hold dear with passionate commitment. It does mean choosing God’s wisdom to operate the locomotive and putting our emotions in the caboose. 

Hysteria itself is an expression of emotions running wild. Back in Victorian days, more than a hundred years ago, it was a medical diagnosis. Over the years, hysteria was demoted as a medical diagnosis, but hysteria is still ever-present. It can also manifest as selective amnesia and over-dramatized behavior.  Hysteria is making quite a debut in our public rhetoric.

Hopefully, our Christian community will operate within scriptures and take up the mantle of God’s wisdom. That way, we can make a difference in the spiritual atmosphere of our nation which is now in the grips of the enemy of our personal and national souls.

Guard your minds against conspiracy theories since they will sound plausible. Resist the urge to post what you have not checked out.  Let’s ask for the Lord’s mercy and His Holy Spirit to enable us to stand on the Rock of our faith.  I find some stress relief by taking deep prayerful breaths when newscasts report more shocking news. And for that matter, I don’t listen to news all day and night. It’s debilitating.

I hope and pray that what I have written here will be useful and encouraging. Our solutions are in the Bible.  And here are a few verses where we can discover the wisdom we all desperately need.   

Proverbs 20:15 Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

James 3:3-6 The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.







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