Alyssa L

 Before my freshman year, I thought life insurance was for “old” people. Life insurance is supposed to pay for funerals and any outstanding bills the person left behind. To a fourteen year old girl, life insurance seems unnecessary. However, I learned life insurance is not just for “old” people; it is something every individual should have.

At five in the morning on August 31, 2013, my mother shook me awake. I sat up out of bed and immediately asked what was wrong.  I asked her this several times, but she said nothing, and her eyes were red and tear-rimmed. Every horrible scenario imaginable ran through my mind. All my mother said to me was that she and my father needed to talk to me and my younger brother, Cole, in the living room.

I sat on our couch and prepared myself to hear whatever heart-breaking news my parents were about to deliver. My best guess was my grandfather had another heart attack and passed away. I waited quietly as my parents composed themselves. When I heard my father say the name of my older sister, my mind started reeling. What had happened to Beth? What did he mean? Unconsciously, I stood up and ran from the room. My father caught me at the waist before I could go too far, and we both sank to the kitchen floor. I knew in my heart exactly what he meant when he said her name. Beth was gone.

I called her cell phone, and it went straight to voicemail. It seemed impossible. How could my sister be gone? I had seen her fourteen hours earlier. She had been smiling and joking before she left to go to her boyfriend’s house. She was nineteen. She was going to college. She was healthier and happier than I had ever seen her. Death does not happen to young girls. Death is for old people. I had always assumed my sister would finish college, get married, and have a family. Beth’s passing was a complete shock to my system.

The police found her sitting in her car outside her boyfriend’s apartment. My family and I went to identify her body. The place reeked of chemicals, and the sight of Beth laying on the little metallic table caused me to pass out. I felt sick to my stomach and my chest hurt so bad that I could barely breathe. I felt like a shell of a person. The autopsy revealed that her heart looked like the heart of a seventy year old woman. It was in terrible shape because the three flaps in her heart were fused together which making it work harder to function. No one could have known there was anything wrong with her, there were no symptoms or clues. Beth looked to be a normal nineteen year old girl. She had some stomach trouble a few years earlier which required her gallbladder to be removed, but nothing else had ever troubled her.

The next few days were a blur. My parents made arrangements, people brought food to our house, and I sat in my room and cried when I was not being hugged by friends and family. The visitation lasted for several hours because so many people from our small community showed up. At the funeral, I gave a testimony about how wonderful my sister was, but I was such a mess no one could understand me. I returned to school a week later.

I may have returned to school, but I was nowhere near returning to normal. I still cried every night before I fell asleep for the next six months. I still called Beth’s phone to listen to her voice. I felt so empty and angry inside. As time went on, I came to terms with the tragedy and returned to a somewhat normal teenage life. Losing Beth has made me realize life is ephemeral, and I take advantage of every day because I know tomorrow is not a guarantee.

The primary purpose of insurance is to help families return to normalcy after a catastrophe or tragedy. I am extremely thankful that my parents had life insurance. My parents did not have to worry about getting money together to pay for a funeral because the life insurance paid for it. During a troubling time such as this, not having the money to hold a proper funeral can cause extra stress to families who are already under an enormous amount of pressure to make decisions and are grieving the loss of their loved one.

Losing my sister was like being thrown into the middle of a tornado. Everything was so confusing and happened so quickly. If my parents had not had life insurance, the chaos would have been ten times worse than what it was. Instead of grieving and healing my parents would have been more concerned with figuring out how they would pay for all of the expenses that come with a funeral.  I cannot imagine having to go through an experience such as this without life insurance. The life insurance took the strain off my parents, which allowed them to help my brother and me return to our normal lives as best we could.

The value of insurance is immeasurable. Insurance is not about the money; it is about allowing people to overcome the tragedies that strike unexpectedly. My family and I are forever changed without Beth in our lives, but life goes on and we face each day knowing she knew how loved she was. My family is able to go on because insurance relieved the financial burden from us so we could concentrate on celebrating Beth’s life.

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