On Death and FIRE

FIRE doesn’t matter if you don’t have your health. FIRE doesn’t matter if you can’t be there for your loved ones. 

I started this blog partially because it sounded fun, partially because it had potential to make money (ha!). Now I use this blog more as a way to focus my own thoughts and feelings. And when you have ADHD, sometimes you have a lot more feelings than you care to admit.

In December a close family member died, in their 30s, and I still cannot believe it. They had a number of health issues, but none that my family thought could end their life, at least not in their 30s. We were wrong. I spent three months away from home, with family, helping out as I could, including going through their computer and helping their surviving spouse with childcare and organizing finances.

This family member was also pursuing a financially independent, retired early (FIRE) life, and had a multi-page document outlining financials, including draw-down strategies and side-income streams. I may be the personal finance blogger, but their detailed planning put me to shame.

They were actually considering retiring in the next year or so, and had a long list of things they wanted to focus on when they did, from fitness to nerdy tech projects. Reading through the list makes me imagine a dozen different alternate realities where they’re still alive, and thriving.

There are phases anyone goes through with pursuing something like financial independence, including one I like to call the extreme bargaining phase, where you cut as many corners as possible, even delaying medical care. I keep thinking about if they would have gotten the help they needed earlier if they weren’t worried about the cost, and if that would have made any difference. 

I talked with them, in October, prior to them making an appointment that was absolutely the right decision health-wise and also absolutely not covered by their insurance. And I know they grumbled and complained afterwards, and that they were very anxious to receive all the bills. 

In the end, I know these what-ifs don’t matter, and I can’t change the past, regardless of how unfair the present feels, and me trying to put blame somewhere is just my body’s way of handling my bundle of raw emotions. 

But I also think of the ways I cut corners when it comes to my own health. Stopping a fancy gym subscription I really hecking used because it seemed too extravagant and I could go to a cheaper one down the street (then never signing up for that gym because it was more expensive than I thought), not going to urgent care for an earache that then made me go to the emergency room later anyway, or not going straight to the emergency room to get checked out after being hit by a car (yes, this really happened).

You can’t change the past, but you sure as hell can change the future. Don’t be me. Be there for your loved ones and take care of yourself.

7 thoughts on “On Death and FIRE

  1. Oh Felicity, I had been thinking of you these past months and wondering if you were ok. I’m so sorry this is why you have been away. I’m so sorry for your loss and thank you for coming back to share. This is a reminder that many of us should pay heed to, FIRE or not.

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  2. I’m sorry to hear that. Sending lots of positive energy and hugs your way.

    That’s tough. Especially thinking if what it’s, but you can’t ever go back, so those things have to get accepted as “the best decision was made at the time”, regardless of the reason.

    I’ve had trouble accepting that sort of thing over the last year and when I got to a point that I could say,”sure hindsight is 20/20,but I made the best decision at the time that I thought was right at the time.”
    And I have to accept it and move on.

    There’s lots to learn from, but I try focusing forward and apply those learnings so I don’t have to have these reckonings with myself any more than necessary.

    Sending lots of positivity your way.

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  3. Sending hugs to you and your family. Our healthcare system in America is completely broken. It sounds like the world is missing a wonderful person now. I hope you and your family have the space to grieve your loss.

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  4. Felicity, thank you for sharing this difficult news. I am so sorry for your loss.
    I’m fighting against whatever the opposite of “1 more year syndrome” is, frankly because of situations like this. The past year has taught us that tomorrow is never guaranteed, and so what if I pull the retirement rip-cord before my finances are technically ready for me to do that? Worst case, I get a job in a few years after REALLY HECKING ENJOYING the next 3-5 when I’m young enough and healthy enough to enjoy them!

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