Heather Burditt November 8, 2010

Unschooling after Death

13 Responses

I had a few articles started for this. With Halloween just leaving, I was writing about unlimited candy! Then I had found some cool science experiments you can do with candy, so I was going to mention those. Cool stuff you can do with candy beside’s eat it? Awesome!

That will all have to wait though, because I’m feeling quite serious today. I opened my facebook yesterday and learned that an Unschooling dad had passed away. It would appear that he was posting about not feeling good and having a fever for a few days, but I read this morning that he also may have had a heart condition. He will truly be missed by many, reading the comments on his wall I am blown away by the size of his family.

I’ve seen this happen a few times now since we’ve started unschooling, this was the first unexpected death I have experienced. It can happen. So often, Unschooling relies on one income that if one parent were to suddenly pass on, it could potentially devastate the family. Not only because their parent is now gone, because the other parent suddenly needing to work and financially support the family. It’s a discussion that comes up in our household and we are working toward taking steps to be prepared. Death doesn’t always come with a warning.

It doesn’t matter if you are a traditional homeschooler or an Unschooler. The unique situation of being able to stay home with your children is something that doesn’t need to change if a parent dies. Here are some ideas:

  • Life Insurance for the breadwinner: What will you do if the breadwinner of your family suddenly dies? Where will you get the money to be able to stay home with your children? I don’t care how you feel about insurance companies. A life insurance policy is a good idea for most families. There are many different plans, for many different situations. Call someone about it today. If you happen to be a healthy person and under 30 you can often lock in a low rate for the rest of your life.
  • Life Insurance for the caretaker: On the other hand what will you do if the person who stays home with your children suddenly dies? How will you work *and* take care of them. A life insurance policy here as well could be a good idea for your family.
  • Will: It is incredibly important to make sure that your wishes are properly documented in the event that you or your partner die. If it is not done correctly, there *is* a possibly that a court will not accept it. However, if both parents die, and the children are young and/or uninformed there is no one to fight for what you or they want if you don’t have a proper will.


  • What if both parents suddenly die?
  • Then what?
  • Where will the children go?

I haven’t seen this situation happen to anyone I know, but that doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t. As unschoolers, I think it’s important to consider our children’s futures in the event they find themselves without parents. Unschoolers live a drastically different lifestyle than most families, and who they will live with if you are gone is an incredibly important decision. Please have this outlined in your will.

For us, we don’t want their lifestyle changed any more than it has to be if we aren’t here. We would always want them to be able to live in the freedom that they have now. Unschooling, with or without the label is the single most important thing to our family. If there is no other person, family member or friend that could raise your children the way you would want, then I think Unschooling families should started naming each other in their wills. Yes, I’m serious and there are families willing to be there for your children.

  • If you have any other thoughts or ideas then please post them below.
  • If you can help Unschooling families learn about life insurance please post below with contact info.
  • If you can help Unschooling families draft a will or find someone who can, please leave your contact info.
  • If I see any information on how to help the family of Ely Rodriguez, then I will get it posted here.

Until then, please communicate with your family. Death is no fun to talk about, but it’s no less important than any other subject. Your kids have so much say in their lives, that could all change in an instant.

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About Heather Burditt

My name is Heather and I’m a pro-liberty, unschooling advocate and speaker, gluten-free, artist, writer, realist, loving wife and mother. Welcome to my blog. I blog about mindful parenting, unschooling, and living a radical life. Please enjoy! Please Comment!

Previously in Swiss Army Wife

13 Responses to Unschooling after Death

  1. heidi snavley says:

    I think this is such an important subject, especially for families living with one income. We pay $100/ month for $1,000,000 on my husband and $450,000 in life insurance on me. We figured if something happened to me, at least he would be able to work less and if something happened to him our lifestyle wouldn’t have to change at all. Good to be prepared. We hope we never have to use it!

  2. denise says:

    Important to plan in advance.

    It is very important! We have managed will & life insurance with that specifically in mind. We removed all 401K contributions (pointless anymore) from my husbands paycheck and invested it in whole life policies. Those don’t expire, we have a will and trust setup which that money would go into for the boys, and if necessary we can draw on it for retirement if needed without reducing the payout in case of death. We just had to have health examinations to qualify for the whole life policy, but much better/safer investment than having only a term policy (we have both).

    The only area I am really uncomfortable with is if both of us die…we don’t have anyone that we feel comfortable having the kids go to if we die. We don’t have close enough friends for anything like that. And any family that would get involved would definitely be against everything we stand for (not to mention crazy). So, only one of us is allowed to die at a time. ;P

    • Granola Girl says:

      It has been important to us since neither my husband or I really have anyone locally to take care of our son if something happens. His Godparents are wonderful people by they live on the other side of the US. For this reason we have always tried to be sure our son could integrate into school if he absolutely had to. We don’t push anything, but will subtly talk a bit about grade level benchmarks to see where he is at and if he could probably meet them, or leave a worksheet or two out to see how he fares with them since most of our school is discussion based. We don’t want him to ever have to be faced with it, but they would never even homeschool him let alone unschool him! My husband is a public school teacher as well, so if I died, our son would have to matriculate into his father’s school system.

      We are in the process of purchasing property and completely getting out of debt so that I could manage our bills all by myself if needed and my son wouldn’t have to be completely uprooted. Rather than a life insurance policy, my husband would rather that we live in a way that our family could be handle.

  3. jessica says:

    One book that is really awesome & helpful in getting families to plan for the unexpected is “Wear Clean Underwear”… she goes through different scenarios & walks us through how to set things up so that our wishes are known, etc… here’s the link:


    Amazon has it as well:


    no affiliation, I just think this book is a great resource!

  4. Arp says:

    Life insurance is something we’ve been lax about and need to take care of as soon as we can. I’m hoping someone chimes in with suggestions on where to look for policies.

  5. Stuart says:

    I have a list of links I am building, which, if I died right now, will survive me, and still be there for my kids.

    I’ve also told them that if I die, I want them both to read Balthasar Gracian, and Greene+Elffers.

    • moonchild says:

      i am reading up on those authors right now. but what list of links are you collecting and butting up for your kids to always be there? i would like to have this list too, and find your post as one of the best…….thanks

  6. Ann says:

    Term life insurance is cheap and easy to find-just go on the internet and use on of the services that will bring up lots of quotes from different companies. All adults with children should have a term life insurance policy if at all possible. Don’t to whole life-do term life. Many people have term life through their employer and that’s great, but they should have a separate policy with another insurance company to prevent lapses in case of job loss. Because of the homeschooling situation we’re discussing, I personally would go with a million for the bread winner and half mil for the at home parent, as one other reader had mentioned. Also, make sure you take out a term that will cover the family until the children are grown, 18 or 21 or whatever you’re comfortable with. If you have special needs children you would want to take it out until they are older. So if your youngest is 5 years old and you want to be covered until that child is 25, you’d want to take out a 20 year term. The younger YOU are when you take out the policy, the cheaper the policy will be, and most of the time the monthly premium remains the same throughout the policy, but check on that to make sure. I took out a term life policy when I was 39 yo for 150,000 and only pay $12 per month. I am wishing I took, it out for a larger amount now because I am 48 and the rate for my age person has gone up a bunch. But because we homeschool now, I”m going to take out another policy for more. For term life, you will have to take a physical, but it is a limited physical. There are a ton of questions on the application, and they will ask for access to your medical records. It feels quite intrusive but it is standard with most life insurance companies. If you have medical conditions, your premium will be higher, as well as if you smoke you will pay more.

    Hope this helps!

  7. I’m proof it can be done joyfully <3
    Money's important, yes, but PLEASE don't give up today's joy, today's memory making opportunities to give money to an insurance company! We had a little policy that gave us an easy first few months of grieving without worrying about a budget; the long term has been padded with Social Security Survivors Benefits (Americans are issued a statement each year on their birthday that describes the death benefits to the family). It's not but a breath above the poverty level and it's been the greatest gift to our family. I've had to be present to be sure our stipend provided exactly what our family needed (including family vacations including Disneyland and unschooling conferences). When Hayden was 9, I began working a few nights, at a job he can attend with me if he chooses, which is close to home when he stays home.
    Our tastes have gotten a bit more expensive as time goes on and I've become more creative in finding ways to afford what we need – which still includes Disneyland and conferences :)

  8. MamaWhimsy says:

    When my husband is running late from work and I am unable to get ahold of him, I find myself having morbid thoughts about him possibly in an accident. This ultimately leads to me wondering how I would be able to continue raising our girls without sending them to school, as this is something extremely important to us. When I mentioned these thoughts to my husband, he calmly informed me that his life insurance policy is pretty darn good, so we should be ok financially for awhile. Not exactly the reaction I was expecting! But since he works as an associate manager for a life insurance company, this is what he talks about daily.
    Anyways, he would be happy to talk to anyone with questions about life insurance. You can add him on facebook, Lane DeLong. It seems he’s the only one on there with that name. A link to his company webpage: http://myagla.com/lane.delong/?spage=DirectionstoOffice
    We are planning to attend UWWG, os people may be able to meet up and ask him questions while there.
    My thoughts are with the Rodriguez family. I cannot imagine.

  9. Ben says:

    Regarding both parents dying: Kelly almost lost both parents in a car accident when she was very young. I’m not certain what would have happened to her, but I know it came into the conversation when we discussed it. Luckily, we have two *single* children, with eight years in between. Now that Cameron is 22, he (emphatically *yes* was his response) would be Duncan’s caretaker.

    Regarding our lifestyle choice and those who share that choice and are unsure what to do: Rest assured that the home at 118 Steeplechase South in Columbia, SC, is *always* open, is safe, and is peaceful. We’re here if you EVER need us.

  10. mamapoekie says:

    This is something I think about often. I wouldn’t want my daughter to be raised by anyone in our families, or even in our immediate environment. Heck… I only know one family who is a little bit peaceful and then they’re not even unschoolers and still have a lot of things I don’t agree with.
    The only people I would see my daughter grow up with if we were to die are people I only know online… It scares me shitless, because we travel a lot and because we do live in countries where danger is a real thing… and we are sometimes on the road without our child.

    Yet it is true that if anyone would ask of me to be their kids guardian, I would say yes. I think that a lot of us are rather openminded about that
    My husband keeps putting it off to make a will, because he doesn’t want to realize this is a possibility.

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