“You never know who will be next”


It’s a topic that no one wants to talk about and yet we must…we should…can we? Ok, here it is...


Today, like hundreds of times before, I stood at the grave side of a family’s loved one. I had just officiated the service of a 34-year-old man; a dad, son, brother, uncle, nephew and friend. After the formalities had ended and I was standing back giving the family space for their grieving and farewells, I overheard this young man’s grandfather say to other family members, “the frightening thing is that you never know who will be next”.

The young man in whom we had just celebrated, died from what currently remains as an “unknown cause of death”. There was no warning, no signs, no time to prepare, nothing. As you can imagine, the shock and heartache was, and still remains today, almost unbearable.

I recall reading once the perception a clock gives compared to the olden days style of time-telling which was a sand glass. The hands of a clock continue to go around and around, giving the observer the perception that time just keeps on going.... When we compare this to the hourglass we see where the sand slowly (but blatantly) begins to run out, time will stop.

In today’s society I am confident that we see life as a ‘continual ticking’, when the reality is that our time on earth is indeed “like the sands through an hour glass”.

I watched (holding back the tears in my own eyes) while this young dad’s 4-year-old daughter cast soil into her dad’s grave. So sweet, innocent, and probably without the full understanding that her “dad has gone forever”.

I wondered if her dad had prepared a ‘will’, whether he had life insurance to ensure his family would be looked after… did he ever consider the harsh reality that life could end, without notice?

5 years ago, at the age of 41, I was traveling to South Africa for the first time. Before I went I had a strong sense that I had to get my affairs in order. Naomi and I have had a ‘will’ since we were married, but I did not have my life insurance fully sorted. I met with my financial advisor and over two weeks intricately went through our affairs, ensuring that my wife and 3 daughters would be totally cared for and provided for in the case of my death. The day before I flew out I signed the final documentation.

Incredibly and without notice, 5 minutes before landing in Johannesburg I became unconscious and started to convulse. I regained consciousness discovering that we had landed and I was a classified “medical emergency.” Hours later as I sat in a hospital in South Africa, without family, not understanding the Zulu language, fearful of my future, I distinctly remember being thankful for the time, effort and outcomes of preparing for my death.

Thankful to have survived and eventually be reunited with my family, it put things into rather harsh perspective for me.

I ask you today, as a friend and the founder of Oh My Grief, please stop and ask yourself (especially if you are 18 years or over) whether you are prepared for your own unexpected death?

Do your family and loved ones know your wishes?

Do you want to be buried or cremated?

Where is your ‘will’ and is it up to date?

What about life insurance?

What are your end of life choices regarding medical treatment?

Who will be your power of attorney?

For the help we needed, Naomi and I used a financial advisor and a solicitor to help us walk through these important (and for some, difficult) steps.

Today I heard an elderly statesman speak a great truth. While we don’t know the when or how, we can be prepared in such a way that our families will be “looked after” the best way possible. 


By Steve Morrison