Oamaru woman Paige Wills is encouraging people have those “what if” conversations with their loved ones, with the launch of her new business, Peace of Mind.
Mrs Wills created a downloadable “fill-in-the-blank, in-case-of-emergency” planner for when a loved one was affected by an emergency, severe injury, illness or even death.
“What would happen if you were unable to do all the things you usually take care of?
“I’m talking about everything from paying your bills or making an insurance claim, to where to turn off your water … or one of the million other things you keep in your head.”
The idea evolved from the “sheer joy and utter panic” Mrs Wills felt at the “enormity” of being responsible for another person, when she became a mother for the first time in 2009.
“For weeks I couldn’t sleep, not just because I was the mum of a newborn baby, but mostly because I lay there worrying about what would happen if I, or my farmer husband, became sick, injured or even died.”
This was the catalyst for her to create the first version of her planner – a document that contained all her essential family information, and a letter to her daughter in case she was not there to see her grow up.
“Over the past decade I’ve added to it, tweaked and improved it massively.
“Every time I mentioned it to a friend or family member, they would always comment that they wished they had something like that … just needing them to fill in their own information.
“I had so many people tell me that I just had to make it.”
The former florist and now mother of two said preparing for the unexpected helped people avoid extra pain and stress in a crisis.
The latest Covid-19-induced lockdown was an example of how quickly life could change, and why it was so important to be prepared.
The planner covered everything from personal and medical details, insurances, finances and property and business details to digital information, end-of-life wishes, and emergency or natural disaster plans.
Mrs Wills had spent months researching, writing and tweaking the document.
“I’ve spoken with dozens of experts in their fields – nurses, lawyers, funeral directors – as well as everyday Kiwis, to ensure I’ve thought of everything,” she said.
She was surprised at how supportive everyone had been.
“They were all so generous with their time and experience and really wanted this to get out to as many people as possible, because they saw the huge benefit in it.”
Her biggest challenge had been creating and spreading awareness of the issue. It was something all people needed to do on some level, and they needed to make the time, she said.
“Lives are so busy and so full, it just goes to the bottom of the to-do list.
“I want people to realise just how important it is to actually do it instead of putting it off for later, because the reality is there may not be time later.”
Mrs Wills said the feedback alone had made the experience worthwhile, and it tended to come from people who had already been in a situation where the planner would have been useful.
“Yesterday, I had the loveliest email from a lady whose husband suffered a severe medical event last year and is now no longer able to communicate.
“He had done all the life admin in their marriage (bills, bank accounts, insurance, passwords, etc) and she and her daughter had spent over a year trying to figure it all out.
“She was so happy that I had created a way for other people to avoid all the stress and worry shed experienced.”
Mrs Wills wanted as many North Otago people as possible to have access to the planner, which can be bought online at mypeaceofmind.co.nz.