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A Partner's Perspective - Erica May

Case Study - Erica May / 16 May 2017

A Partner's Perspective

At the age of 25 I received a phone call telling me that my 31 year old partner of four and a half years had been killed suddenly in an accident. It’s now 15 years later and it remains as the worst moment of my life. It turned my whole world upside down in ways that I couldn’t even begin to imagine.

A few years before his death he had mentioned to me that he’d received a phone call from a company trying to sell him life insurance. They had suggested he take out a policy in case anything happened to him. I scoffed at the time and said it was totally unnecessary! Little did I know what the future held for us.

After the initial few days and weeks of organising death notices, funerals, his daughter (who lived with us), work, appointments, rent, bills and counselling, it became obvious that there are a lot of costs involved when someone dies. These are over and above your day to day living expenses. We were beyond fortunate that he had some life insurance through his superannuation, and he was also entitled to workers’ compensation, as he had died on the way to work (a policy that applied as we lived in NSW). While the bulk of the money went into a trust fund for his children, I was entitled to a portion of it as his co-dependent.

This money did not bring him back.It didn’t stop the sleepless night nor the tears. It did not make my anxiety over things that happened following his death easier to handle. It didn’t stop me from throwing up every time the phone rang and it didn’t make the red tape and bureaucracy that I faced for the following two years go away. However, it did give me choices. Having money in the bank meant I could go to work when the loneliness at home was too much to bear, or go home from work when I could no longer function there. I could take long lunch breaks and lie in the garden or on the floor of a colleague’s office when I needed to escape. I could afford to start kickboxing lessons that helped me manage my grief and anger. I could choose to move to Western Australia when everything got so bad I could no longer remain in my home town. And I could slowly return to my career as an Occupational Therapist, first casually, then part time and finally full time.It also allowed me to pay all the bills that come with death, grief, moving house and later relocating to the other side of the country, without leaving myself in massive debt.

I am now a mother of two children and partner of a Virgin Pilot. I am painfully aware of what it would mean if my partner were to pass away. While we have some savings put away, I know that it would not last long if I had to cover all the costs associated with a death, as well as pay the mortgage and bills, which won’t just stop if our main income does. I have ensured that we both have life insurance, trauma, total and permanent disablement cover, loss of income protection and a Will.

I’m sure you don’t think anything bad is going to happen to you. Most of us don’t. But it can, and once it’s happened it’s too late to go back and put something in place. I have spent a few days over the last week with staff from the Australian Air Pilots Mutual Benefit Fund listening to them talking to pilots and partners of pilots about their Loss of Licence Protection and Death Benefit Cover.

I urge you to contact them to ensure you have this cover in place. You may not think you need it. Maybe you don’t have many expenses or you may think because you don’t have children that it’s not relevant for you. I didn’t have many outgoings at the time my partner died and his daughter wasn’t able to remain in my care, so I also had no children. However, the lump sum that I received was enough to allow me to grieve and move forward with my life, without additional stress, pressure or worry.

Doesn’t your partner deserve the same if it should happen to you?

View the PDF article here.