How do you prepare for the greatest tragedy of your life? – Harris N. Hershey Rosen

by Harris N. “Hershey” Rosen, contributing writer & author, “Why? Because I Love You”

Photo: AARP

Below you will see a letter from the Baltimore Sun to a writer, Amy Dickinson. Amy is the area’s “Dear Abby”. One letter she received stopped me in my tracks. It might do that for you, too.

A 73 year old gentleman wrote asking how he could best prepare for the death of his spouse.  He obviously had reason to know, that, barring anything to significantly change circumstances, his wife would predecease him. The advice the writer gave back was spot on. While all the organizing and physical preparations in the world can help, it cannot fully prepare you – but it can give you both peace of mind.  The one left behind will not have the utter overwhelming stress of not knowing how the home runs or where and what is/was most important to the other.  So, by all means, organize – and start today.

But also, as this article says…when tragedy does come upon you, you can ground yourself by nurturing the relationships with friends and family. Listen to your spiritual, emotional and physical health. Your intellectual curiosity.  Your relationship with the natural world.  Get in tune with your creative side.  And most of all – allow yourself to be held up by fellow human beings. Also – pets can help…From a loving nuzzle to ready companionship. 

I hope you will pick up my book – the process it will guide you through will give you peace of mind. How do I know this? Because it is the process I have gone through – some things on my own, others with my wife and my family, and the professionals who advise us.

From the Baltimore Sun article that inspired this writing:

Happily married spouse tries to prepare for loss

Dear Amy: My wife and I have been happily married for 45 years. Marrying her remains the best and wisest thing I’ve ever done. But we’re getting older. I’m 73 and in good health. She’s 76 and has had several medical issues. I’m beginning to realize I may outlive her.

I can’t imagine life without her. Where can I seek advice on preparing myself for what would be the greatest tragedy of my life?

— Worried in California

Dear Worried: Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s possible to truly prepare yourself for a loss of great magnitude. I also wonder if it is even wise to spend precious time trying. Life can be so strange and fickle that the things we anticipate and try to prepare for either don’t happen the way we thought they would, or our feelings and reactions end up being very different after the fact.

I believe the following factors can create a positive grounding for coping with stress and loss: Your healthy relationships with friends and family. Your spiritual, emotional and physical health. Your intellectual acuity and curiosity. Your relationship with the natural world. Your ability or interest in being creative.

And —most of all — feeling “seen,” loved and held up by fellow human beings. Also pets. A loving nuzzle from an animal pal who needs you can be incredibly healing and sustaining.

These are all life enhancements you can work on now, with the love of your life by your side.


Harris “Hershey” Rosen, is the author of WHY? Because I Love You, a book that says it like it is – “What you need to know when I die”. His book details methods to organize your important personal and family information for those who are left behind.

A graduate of Harvard, Hershey Rosen has focused on controlling chaos since 1954. He was a Financial Control Officer in the U.S. Army, where he received a Letter of Commendation for improvement to its worldwide accounting system. Next, on to satisfying everyone’s sweet tooth, he ran a candy company for 40 years, developing a system for locating ANY item housed in five factories, covering 600,000 square feet.

Following “retirement,” Hershey went on to become a mediator and settled over 200 disputes for the state of Rhode Island and The Community Mediation Center of Rhode Island. He was also asked to team-teach management courses at the University of Rhode Island, where he enthusiastically challenged the text book with real-life experiences, to the delight and edification of the students.

Always passionate about assisting others, Hershey has been a director or trustee of numerous boards and organizations. He has written Creating A Guide So Your Loved Ones Can Go On Living! to help others protect their spouses (and families) from the intense stress that will occur if one does not share financial information and knowledge critical to a functioning home. He then wrote My Family Record Book, expanding on the information in his first book, and finally, in 2020, WHY? Because I Love You was published.

Hershey, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, can now relax (ha!) with his beloved wife, Myrna, and enjoy visits with their combined five children and ten grandchildren.

“WHY? Because I Love You” – available here: