HR with PURPOSE. What do these words really mean?

Well, they mean that sometimes we have to step out of the “normal” and help our businesses, our employees, our customers, and our friends with things they would rather ignore. Today, for me, this means talking about what most of us ignore – death.

Recently my husband and I lost our beloved adopted son, Marty. He died suddenly at the age of 42. Although it was shock, the real shock was yet to come as reality set in and the hard work of settling his estate hit full force. Marty had always told me and “Pops” (my husband Rob, his adopted dad) that he had life insurance policies and a will and that his final wishes were written down. Well, as it turns out, none of that was true – at least as far as we can find.

In the weeks since his passing, I have discovered that much of what he planned must have been in his head ONLY. So far, there is no will, no life insurance policies, no accounting of what his final wishes were – only words. This is so very difficult because now it’s left to the courts to decide what happens next. You see we never “formally” adopted Marty. Our relationship was one of mutual adoption – out of necessity and love, but never legal and now that he’s gone, the state and the courts only recognize what is considered “legal”. It doesn’t matter that we were is family for over 25 years or that when he was lonely, sick, scared, hurt or joyous, he sought us out. What matters to the courts is ONLY who is his legal next of kin.

Thus, comes the purpose of this blog and the meaning of HR with PURPOSE.

As leaders in your organization, employees look to you to guide and direct them. Death is one of the hardest things your employees will ever face, but face it they will and you can lead them to be prepared for the inevitable and spare their loved ones the heartache of second-guessing.

My take-aways from our recent tragedy are:

  1. If you truly love your family – write down your final wishes – don’t leave them to guess or fight over what you would have wanted.
  2. Prepare a WILL – no matter what your age – be intentional about who you want to have things and how you want your remains handled – do you want to be buried, cremated, etc. Where do you want to be buried, your ashes spread etc.?
  3. Fill out that beneficiary paperwork on the life insurance provided by the company and submit it to HR for safe keeping so those you love will be taken care of when you’re on longer here to do it.
  4. Write down ALL of your passwords – in todays world of technology, nothing can be accessed without a password and if your loved one’s don’t have those, no one will help them access your accounts.
  5. Be sure someone can access your phone and your computer – same issue as above. Most of us keep virtually our entire lives electronically and with today’s 2-step verification, many of us set it up to send a notification to our phones – if your loved ones can’t access your phone (do they know your password or did you set them up to access with their fingerprint) they can’t get into accounts because of the 2-step verification.
  6. Preserve your memories – pictures, text messages, voicemails, etc. One of our most prized possessions now is a recording Marty made when he left home to go to Texas. It’s almost prophetic, where he’s asking Pops if he misses him – the answer is yes, we sure do!
  7. Ask questions! Because our son was only 42, we never expected to out-live him so we never asked if he had a will or where it was or what to do if something happened. Looking back we wish we had asked more questions.


You as a leader, can help your employees prepare for the inevitable and spare their loved ones the additional grief of second-guessing, in-fighting, and uncertainty by:

  1. Holding a “preparing your final wishes” virtual or in-person meeting
  2. Connecting them with resources who can help them prepare a will – you can use your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to tap into resources.
  3. Reminding them to create a “love box” for those they will leave behind with their wishes carefully laid out along with all their important papers (life insurance policies, investments, bank accounts, debts, etc.) and their passwords.

Death will come for us all and we can’t predict when that day or hour will be so the time to prepare is NOW. Remember, God doesn’t’ promise us tomorrow, so it’s important to be prepared today. If you don’t know the love and peace of Christ, get to know Him today as well. Ask Jesus to come into your life and save you so your final resting place will be with Him. That is what I am most thankful for – is that Marty came to the Lord in 2016 and I will see him again!