Reflections on a Family Loss

I thought twice at first about writing this post as I  figured people might think it was a bit morbid but then I thought to myself, no… this is all about facing reality head on and being honest and open. This is supposed to be a blog where I get to share my thoughts and opinions after all :).

The loss

For the past few months, a very close family member of mine has been battling with advanced cancer. Last night from 1 – 7am I was in a hospital side room with many family members waiting for the inevitable to happen. It did happen with all of us present at around 4am. She passed pain free surrounded by loved ones which was something we all wanted but of course at the same time was a horrific experience and many images of which I still can’t get out of my mind right now. This isn’t the first time I have been with a close family member when they died but is the first time since my pursuit of FI began.

Reflections

During these 6 hours together, we all were talking about many different things and at one point the subject of money and priorities in life came up. The general opinions and thoughts that appeared were that you should live life as if it were your last day and money doesn’t matter, it’s better to spend it now and be happy etc. This is in part what made me think about writing a brief post on this sentiment whilst being enveloped in the grief and trauma of it all. Has it changed any of my beliefs around the pursuit of FI?

I didn’t really disagree with the general sentiment of what they were trying to convey but did disagree with what they said if taken in a literal sense. I completely agreed that when such moments in life crop up that it can make certain goals and pursuits look trivial and can make you question things that you might be doing or worrying about in life. It certainly does make you reflective on such things. Should I live like today will be my last day, should I start spending all my money as who knows when I will die, it could be tomorrow, a week or 10 minutes. How can I think about an FI date 8 years in the future?

Live each day like it will be your last

The idea of living each day like it will be your last day I think is easy to dismiss. There’s no way I could do that as it would mean straight away that I wouldn’t go to work, I would want to be with my family all day. I would need to make arrangements etc.. it’s not feasible to think like this. I would say that the more realistic and perhaps what is really meant is – Live like each day could be your last. Now, I think there is some truth in this because I do try to enjoy the present moment and each day. I try not to live life on fast forward to the next weekend or month or next major event. Despite this though, I still live each day with the presumption that there will likely be a tomorrow and that there will likely be a next week, month and year. I don’t know this for certain but I live my life as if it were the case whilst trying to as best I can balance being present minded and enjoying each day for its own sake. 

Stop saving & spend all your money so you can be maximally happy

You shouldn’t save so much was said to me during this time. Now, I think this boils down to believing you are depriving yourself by not spending money which I have written about before. I think this certainly can be true if you are extreme in your approach but even then, deprivation is a very personal thing. Someone could get immense pleasure from not being materialistic, having minimal items and living a simple life. To someone else however this might be torture. So would I be happier spending over a grand a month instead of investing and running down my current stash? I don’t believe I would no as I don’t feel deprived and I get immense joy from having strong finances and FI as a possibility.

What if I had a terminal diagnosis – would I regret my FI pursuit?

I obviously don’t know how I would feel for sure but based on how I think I would feel. This would be a strong no. I would not feel that my life was deprived whilst pursuing FI so I don’t think I could feel regret. I would also have enough money to know I don’t need to worry about money or work as I wouldn’t need to work in this scenario as I already have a sufficient stash to last a decade or more. I would be able to focus my complete attention on my family and approaching the end. I could go on vacations with family and do things that I perhaps would have done less frequently before. In essence I know that being in the position I am already because of my FI pursuit, I would be able to remove some barriers and worries that I might have had if I had not pursued it. The whole experience would of course still be terrible and I don’t want to suggest otherwise.

Will I go down a gear after this?

If I was still at the early stages of my FI pursuit when I was more strict with myself and the slight feelings of depriving myself were present, I have no doubt this would have made me ease up a little bit faster perhaps than I did originally. Because I already have got to a sweet spot for now at least, I won’t be changing anything about how I approach FI. For me, what will change in the short term at least is how frustrated I get about the little things which of course seem so insignificant when you go through something like this. The pursuit of FI is still on…

As always, Let me know your thoughts on this article, I always value your input and opinions.

Chris – The FI Journey

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It’s important to remember that we all have a terminal diagnosis – we just don’t know how long we have got. By saving hard, investing wisely and retiring early, we are aiming to minimise the time spent working and maximise the time and money we have to spend on what makes us happy. I would (and do) argue that the pursuit of financial independance aligns beautifully with the concept of recognising the fleeting nature of our time on the planet. We are not here for long and don’t have good health for ever, so I don’t plan on wasting more… Read more »