Where you never ever want to go: Planning for the possibility of the death of a child

Everywhere I’ve gone online in the last two days has been inundated with news of the death of Henry Granju, oldest son of Katie Allison Granju. My heart goes out to her and her family at this time, and I hope that Henry is at peace.

It really is the very worst thing I can possibly imagine, though. If I died while my children were still young, that would be terrible, but I know they’d be cared for by a community of family and friends who love them beyond all reason, and while they would grieve my loss, I know they’d be okay.

But if one of them died? I cannot fathom it. Getting up every morning to go to work, getting my other child to school, every day… How would I even get out of bed those first few weeks? How would I get groceries, pay my rent, not lose my job? How would I care for my surviving child through that grief?

To assuage my fears, I started to research life insurance policies for the kids a few years ago. I didn’t really have any money to contribute to a plan yet, but I needed to know what my options were. Turns out, I don’t have many. Apparently, autism is one of those pre-existing conditions that prevents one from qualifying for life insurance. Big group policies that don’t do any background checks? They’ll qualify. Unfortunately, the amount of coverage is approximately $5 000 with such a plan. Five grand is still better than nothing, yes, especially as the purpose isn’t to replace the income of a breadwinner for a significant period of time. Except that it is, if it takes a parent longer to become functional after the child’s death.

Before we moved to Toronto, I had group insurance coverage for them, and felt a little more at ease. But now? I have no coverage at all for them. If, Gd forbids, something happens to one of them, I have no cushion to brace my fall into grief and no buffer to support me as I climb back out.

No one should have to think about what might happen if their child dies. Some people might be reading this and thinking that I’m incredibly morbid for even going there, and cold and detached for reducing the possible loss of my child to a question of financial stability. And maybe it is cold and morbid. But it’s also the most practical way I can think about such a horrifying possibility.

I am so grateful that I live in a country where I also wouldn’t have to worry about how to pay for hospital bills in the event of my child’s death. Not everyone has that luxury. Imagine not only having to deal with the death of your child, but crippling medical bills on top of it.

Katie, you probably won’t read this (because Gd knows you’ve got so much going on), but please know that I’m thinking of you, of Henry, and of the rest of your family, and I am so so very sorry for your loss.



  1. Yellow said,

    June 1, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    It’s not morbid, it’s practical. I made the same choice as you several years ago. My kids all have life insurance through my employer. Like yours, it’s about $5000. And, my reasoning is also the same. I need enough money to be able to not work for even a few weeks? A month? I’d need a chance to pull the rest of my babies close, to regroup, to drag myself out of bed and to therapy, and to at least (hopefully), get to the point of being able to put one foot in front of the other.

    I can’t imagine being in her place, being 8 months pregnant on top of it all. Her family has constantly been in my prayers.

    This hits very close to home for us.

  2. Melissa said,

    June 2, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Not morbid at all to think about.
    I am still more fearful of my own death than theirs, because we do not have that network of loving friends and family that could take over. They would suffer more than most children would suffer for the loss of a parent for not having that network.

  3. June 3, 2010 at 1:02 am

    […] Living My Social Work – Where you never ever want to go […]

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