Three years after the unexpected death of her husband, Chanel Reynolds posted a warning. She had started a website to help people avoid a predicament she had found herself in after her husband died. His will had an executor but didn’t have signatures, and she didn’t know many of his passwords.
Her message to others, who might not know whom to put down in their will as a guardian for a child or an overseer of their estate, was this: “If you are at a loss for whom to name, get out there and tighten up your friends and family relationships. Find some better friends. Be a better friend.”
For all of Ms. Reynolds’s organizational foibles, she did not fail at friendship. When her husband, José Hernando, was near death in the hospital in 2009 after he was hit while riding his bicycle, her people came running. “I was on a sinking ship, shot out the few flares that I had and was hoping that they would come find me,” she said. “And they did.”
Erica Woodland, a licensed clinical social worker put out a plea for people to remember how extended circles of more loosely affiliated people rallied around one another these past 15 months. Mutual aid networks sprang up to provide food and help in neighborhoods all over the country.
Maybe you had no need, didn’t know about the networks, or didn’t or couldn’t pitch in or form your own group for whatever reason. But for others, they were essential.
“We don’t expect folks outside of our community to actually care for us,” Mr. Woodland said. “There is a practice of care that is not new to our communities but became more interwoven thanks to the intersecting challenges of 2020.”
And it is this mutuality that can make any money you spend within your own friend or family circles feel less like an awkward act of charity. Instead, it becomes more like a reciprocal act — or an investment in your own future care.
There are a number of ways to put all of this into practice. If you’re trying to get the gang back together someplace far away, you could offer to pay for a shared rental house if you’re the most flush.
Elizabeth Dunn, the co-author with Michael Norton of “Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending” and the chief scientist of a company called Happy Money, suggested a more subtle twist: If you’re trying to reconnect with a long-lost friend who has less money than you, just tell that person you’re going to get on the plane for a visit.
During the pandemic, Ms. Reynolds, who lives in Seattle, paid for a lawyer to help relatives of a deceased friend from Minneapolis who were trying to navigate the legal process after her death. “Going through probate alone is like walking through a country where they speak a language that you have never even heard before,” she said.
Having the money to pay to help friends is not a requirement, though. In the years after her husband’s death, Ms. Reynolds found herself easily remembering the birthdays and death anniversaries that people close to her were marking — or was just more inclined to text when she was thinking of them.
“One version of this is ‘I have more, so I will spend more to care for the people I love,’” said Mr. Woodland, the social worker. “I also think it’s almost easier to spend money than to spend time, to say that ‘I prioritize you and want to know you in a more intimate way.’”
This year, Ms. Reynolds got engaged, which set off a whole new round of bond-forging investments, including making plans to buy a home with her intended.
Given her experience in 2009, she took her own advice about making sure that some of the most important things in life could persist even if the worst happened to her next husband.
“I said — in what I hoped was a beautiful and loving way — that if he dies before the mortgage is paid off, that I needed him to up his life insurance to cover his share,” she said. “And he said, ‘OK.’ It was kind of amazing.”
Article taken from New York Times, written by, Ron Lieber
Find original article here.
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