Death of co-worker

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stemikger
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by stemikger »

investingdad wrote:Per my title, a co-worker passed away very suddenly last week. Guy was in his late fifties and though I didn't work with him that much I'm trying to get my head around not seeing him in the office any more. He went home, had heart trouble, and that was it.

I don't know what his planned retirement age was, but he obviously didn't make it.

It served as a very sobering reminder of why my wife and I want to manage an early retirement. Granted I'm only forty, but there's no way I want to be one of those guys coming into the office and always dreaming of those years when my wife and I just do whatever, and then never getting the chance.
I think of this often. My Dad died at 52 and my Uncle who I was very close with died at 50. My Dad had cancer and suffered for 2 years but my Uncle was a healthy guy and woke up one Monday morning getting ready for work and didn't make it out the door. He started having chest pains and by the time the EMTs came it was too late. I'm turning 50 this June and I'm thinking of my dad and Uncle a lot. They were way too young. I still worry about saving enough money, go figure. My goal is to leave my job at 60 or 62. God I hope I get to enjoy the things they did not. It's all a crap shoot and I try to live day to day, but I definitely hear where your coming from. I work midnights which has its own challenges on the body, so please Lord don't let me die in the office.
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Type2Much
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Type2Much »

My dad was in absolutely awesome shape for a 57 yr old man.... Woke up everyday at 4:30am to do P90X & outran 80+% of the 30 yr olds on his softball team. One day at work randomly had a seizure & we found out he had stage 4 brain cancer. He passed away in 9 months. In a few weeks will mark 1 year since he passed. I am very frugal & sometimes it drives my wife crazy but this thread is a good reminder to make sure we put money aside every once & a while & focus on our loved ones more & more.

Sorry for your loss, OP.
Billionaire
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Billionaire »

A 56 year old co-worker of mine was diagnosed with lung cancer about a year ago. Yes, he smoked. He was recently placed on permanent leave of absence, which means he's not coming back.
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interplanetjanet
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by interplanetjanet »

VictoriaF wrote:
countofmc wrote:I wonder how retirement planning would change if there wasn't such a stigma attached to suicide.
I think it's not as much a stigma of suicide as a mis-prediction of one's future self. At the age of 30, or 40, or 50, it's easy to say, "When I run out of money or health, whichever comes first, I will check out on my own terms." But older people are persistently holding on to their lives, and I expect that we will do so, too, when we get there.
I'd always thought it was a combination of the two, somehow.

I know that I may cling to life more with age, but in an odd way I rather hope that I don't. Death always seemed to me like a relief, on some level - to know that eventually there will be an end, with nothing more to say or do, nothing left to take care of or regret. I feel as though I get little closure in my life as it is and it's comforting to know that eventually there will be an end to all things.

I made my peace with death once already, and I hope that when the time comes for me I will have the strength and grace to do so again.
Valuethinker
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Valuethinker »

We had one co-worker who lost her father 2 years ago, then spent last year recovering from breast cancer. She's been back at work about 3-4 months.

Last week we made her redundant (she's on 3 months notice). Business decision, exiting that line of business.

I don't suppose anybody felt good about doing that.

She sounded quite philosophical, I suppose if you've seen death and considered your own, losing your job seems a relatively small thing.
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ofcmetz
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by ofcmetz »

Good thread. It is still wise to plan for the future in spite of our own mortality. There should be a balance between the saving for tomorrow and the spending during the now. My condolences to the OP.
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SnapShots
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by SnapShots »

My sister and brother-in-law died, unexpectedly, in a small plane accident in 2002. She was 51. The suddenness and shock of her death (and BIL) was a wake up call and made me appreciate each day and overlook many small things in life, which were not important but had a way irritating me.

Her death gave me a better perspective, for a while. During the first year of lost, I remember going on my typical morning walk and seeing things that had always been there but I had never noticed before.

Time has now dulled the sorrow and shocking news and I'm back to worrying about those things that have no importance in the scheme of life.

Although, I don't want to know ... I think, if we knew the exact number of days we had left ... we would stop more often to smell the flowers, live life more fully and stop worrying about the little stuff.

We would, also, know exactly how much we needed in our 401K. :wink:
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jackpullo997
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by jackpullo997 »

SnapShots wrote:My sister and brother-in-law died, unexpectedly,
Her death gave me a better perspective, for a while.
Time has now dulled the sorrow and shocking news and I'm back to worrying about those things that have no importance in the scheme of life.
This is great.
How long did the gratitude last before you went back to typical human nature?
About a few months? Maybe less?
[OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]
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zaboomafoozarg
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by zaboomafoozarg »

jackpullo997 wrote:Living on Ramen noodles for 40 years only to die a few months after retirement is a lot more common than you think.
Odd, I don't know anyone who's ever done that.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Alistair »

[OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]
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Crimsontide
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Crimsontide »

Timely thread. We've lost three coworkers/former coworkers in the last month. All mid-fifties, all heart attack victims. The stress in T-com R&D is tremedous, I'm ready to call it quits while I'm ahead....
Paul78
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Paul78 »

SnapShots wrote:

Although, I don't want to know ... I think, if we knew the exact number of days we had left ... we would stop more often to smell the flowers, live life more fully and stop worrying about the little stuff.

We would, also, know exactly how much we needed in our 401K. :wink:
A better question would be how many "good" years are you gonna get. My great grandmother lived to 99 but it seems like at least the last 15 years were not that great. She was still mentally there but was physically falling apart.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by KlangFool »

Folks,

Another round of layoff is coming at my employer. The ONLY REASON that I can sleep at night with minimal stress is because of my savings and investments. Meanwhile, many of my co-workers are stressed out. So, I am enjoying my savings and investments now without the need of spending it.

The JOURNEY is a lot enjoyable if you do not need to worry about how to pay for it.

Dreamer
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Carl53 »

I had a coworker that had a severe stroke, age 54, just a few months before he was going to retire. He had started with the company a few months later than I had. It made me reflect on my situation. Did I really need another million in assets that working another 10 years might bring? Hadn't we talked about retiring early back we first got married? My spouse has RA and while it is somewhat undercontrol (or was at that time), we realized that whatever time we had together and the quality of time that we were to have was totally a crapshoot. I took the retirement just a few months later, just prior to turning 55. Glad we did as there have been opportunities that we never would have gotten around to and I hope we will be healthy enough for those to come. Unfortunately, the RA at this time is becoming more of a limiting factor, even if we do not get to experience some of what we would have liked to, at least we can know that we have enjoyed what we have experienced. Very few regrets.
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Cernel
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Cernel »

Many of you have expressed your experiences and feelings about the sudden/early death of a friend, co-worker or family member. As I read through the responses to the OP's recent experience, it reminded me of an article I recently read. Written several years ago, the simple article "Top Five Regrets Of The
Dying" recounts the lessons learned by a hospice worker in Australia from her departing patients.
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn't work so hard. (In doing so, missed a lot of kids/family activities as well as passing up on vacations and one's own down time.)
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
A few of these ring home with me and I have taken steps to make some changes.
staythecourse
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by staythecourse »

I have always thought folks underestimate how much control they have in their lives. Stuff happens randomly more then we think. How long we live is one of those items. So what are we to do? Like anything else in life, just like you teach your kids, balance is the most important thing. Being able to enjoy the present without sacrificing for the future.

When things like this happen to others it is a moment to step back and appreciate the things we have in our own lives. As the old adage says, "Stop and smell the roses".

Good luck.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

jackpullo997 wrote:
SnapShots wrote:My sister and brother-in-law died, unexpectedly,
Her death gave me a better perspective, for a while.
Time has now dulled the sorrow and shocking news and I'm back to worrying about those things that have no importance in the scheme of life.
This is great.
How long did the gratitude last before you went back to typical human nature?
About a few months? Maybe less?
I always used to say I bet spouses who survived 9/11 went back to quarreling within a few months.
I must say, that last sentence is really crass and in poor taste.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by pennstater2005 »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
jackpullo997 wrote:
SnapShots wrote:My sister and brother-in-law died, unexpectedly,
Her death gave me a better perspective, for a while.
Time has now dulled the sorrow and shocking news and I'm back to worrying about those things that have no importance in the scheme of life.
This is great.
How long did the gratitude last before you went back to typical human nature?
About a few months? Maybe less?
I always used to say I bet spouses who survived 9/11 went back to quarreling within a few months.
I must say, that last sentence is really crass and in poor taste.
The entire response was in poor taste.
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Longdog
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Longdog »

KlangFool wrote:Folks,

Another round of layoff is coming at my employer. The ONLY REASON that I can sleep at night with minimal stress is because of my savings and investments. Meanwhile, many of my co-workers are stressed out. So, I am enjoying my savings and investments now without the need of spending it.

The JOURNEY is a lot enjoyable if you do not need to worry about how to pay for it.

Dreamer
I have long thought that the purpose of having savings/investments is to achieve a sense of security, not to position yourself to live an ostentatious life in the future.
Steve
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Barefootgirl »

I work in a job that is often thankless and sometimes very stressful. There are two things that make this doable for me right now -

My career allows me to make the world a more positive place. I don't understand people who earn blood money - what they do tears away at the fabric of humanity.

Knowing I can walk away if I can't take it any longer. Walking away would likely cause a delay in my overall retirement date - but I have to ask myself if this is race? races are for rats.

BFG
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countofmc
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by countofmc »

ofcmetz wrote:Good thread. It is still wise to plan for the future in spite of our own mortality. There should be a balance between the saving for tomorrow and the spending during the now. My condolences to the OP.
Exactly. It's a false dichotomy to say that you have to either save for the future or enjoy today. You can do both. In addition, for many people, including myself, saving for the future DOES give you enjoyment today. Putting away say $1000 into a savings account knowing it will be there for the future and/or emergencies gives me just as much joy today as spending that $1000 on furniture or something.
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investingdad
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by investingdad »

Thanks for the responses everyone. I don't want to sound like an insenstive dope, but I wanted to clarify that the effect of the co-worker's passing on me was more along the lines of getting me to stop and think about...everything...as opposed to feeling an emotional loss. I realize that sounds cold and harsh, but in this case the co-worker was somebody I worked with a few times, would say hello to, etc. Not a close working relationship. Good guy, just not a guy I interacted with on a daily basis.

But yeah, it drove home the point that things can be cut short. And it reinforced my desire to retire early to capitalize on my older years spending time more on my terms, rather than feeling like I MUST be out earning a paycheck because I need to.

I agree with the poster above. Building a good size portfolio is not with the intent to go crazy living lavishly, it's to provide peace of mind and smooth out the bumps when curve balls come along.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by countofmc »

investingdad wrote:Building a good size portfolio is not with the intent to go crazy living lavishly, it's to provide peace of mind and smooth out the bumps when curve balls come along.
Agree. I found it harder to stay on course and save when the goal was some distant and vague notion of retirement. But once I reframed my mind to think of it as "spending" money to "buy" freedom and security from having to worry about money, it made me feel much better.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by archbish99 »

countofmc wrote:My opinion is that it's just the fear of death, that mainly comes from the fear of the unknown. That's why, like you said, people of any age want to hang on to life. But generally people with terminal illnesses that know when their time will be up gradually accept that and come to peace with their mortality. I'm thinking if people knew exactly when they'd check out, that fear may subside a bit and encourage you to live life more fully, and would also make retirement planning a hell of a lot easier.

Morbid, I know, but I've thought about this for myself quite frequently.
Along these lines, you might enjoy the books Machine of Death and This Is How You Die. Anthologies where the premise is that there's a machine which can tell you how you'll die. Not when, and it's vague, but it has lots of interesting ponderings about how more knowledge of your mortality could change you.

I had a coworker die last year -- knocked off a cliff by a boulder while mountain climbing, actually. Quite sobering to realize how abruptly everything could change.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by countofmc »

archbish99 wrote:
countofmc wrote:My opinion is that it's just the fear of death, that mainly comes from the fear of the unknown. That's why, like you said, people of any age want to hang on to life. But generally people with terminal illnesses that know when their time will be up gradually accept that and come to peace with their mortality. I'm thinking if people knew exactly when they'd check out, that fear may subside a bit and encourage you to live life more fully, and would also make retirement planning a hell of a lot easier.

Morbid, I know, but I've thought about this for myself quite frequently.
Along these lines, you might enjoy the books Machine of Death and This Is How You Die. Anthologies where the premise is that there's a machine which can tell you how you'll die. Not when, and it's vague, but it has lots of interesting ponderings about how more knowledge of your mortality could change you.

I had a coworker die last year -- knocked off a cliff by a boulder while mountain climbing, actually. Quite sobering to realize how abruptly everything could change.
Thanks I'll check those books out
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by jp3051 »

jackpullo997 wrote:Contrary to popular belief, it's my opinion that retirement obsession is for fools.
Life is the journey, and the biggest regrets are of actions not taken.
Living on Ramen noodles for 40 years only to die a few months after retirement is a lot more common than you think.
Live the life you enjoy living daily, not the one you endure just to finance some [(lousy) --admin LadyGeek] retirement long past you prime.
I hope to work moderately until I drop dead. Retirement is a sucker's mirage
I am kind of surprised that you haven't been blocked or deleted. That kind of talk is blasphemy around here. I do agree with you your post 100% though.
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Random Musings
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Random Musings »

SteveM wrote:
KlangFool wrote:Folks,

Another round of layoff is coming at my employer. The ONLY REASON that I can sleep at night with minimal stress is because of my savings and investments. Meanwhile, many of my co-workers are stressed out. So, I am enjoying my savings and investments now without the need of spending it.

The JOURNEY is a lot enjoyable if you do not need to worry about how to pay for it.

Dreamer
I have long thought that the purpose of having savings/investments is to achieve a sense of security, not to position yourself to live an ostentatious life in the future.
I am in that camp. Although it makes sense to live for today too which requires some balancing.

RM
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zaboomafoozarg
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by zaboomafoozarg »

jp3051 wrote:I am kind of surprised that you haven't been blocked or deleted. That kind of talk is blasphemy around here. I do agree with you your post 100% though.
You probably wouldn't be fond of early-retirement.org then.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by LadyGeek »

Please stay on-topic, which is the death of a co-worker.

To be clear, opposing points of view are welcome. Like any post, they must be stated in a civil manner. As a reminder, see: Forum Policy

We expect this forum to be a place where people can feel comfortable asking questions and where debates and discussions are conducted in civil tones.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Fallible »

investingdad wrote:Thanks for the responses everyone. I don't want to sound like an insenstive dope, but I wanted to clarify that the effect of the co-worker's passing on me was more along the lines of getting me to stop and think about...everything...as opposed to feeling an emotional loss. I realize that sounds cold and harsh, but in this case the co-worker was somebody I worked with a few times, would say hello to, etc. Not a close working relationship. ...
OP, I don't think you were being at all insensitive or cold and harsh. You reacted pretty much the way we all probably would since in many ways we all compare ourselves to others. I think the obit reader in this cartoon from The New Yorker could be anyone of us:
http://www.citizenbrooklyn.com/wp-conte ... e-dot1.jpg

And although, as you said, your co-worker's death did reinforce your desire to retire early, for many of us there will be other unexpected events, such as the illness of parents who may need our care and financial help, that have to be balanced with the desire for early retirement. And on the balancing act goes... ...[/quote]
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by DaleMaley »

Just a few years ago, a guy who I worked with for 25 years, passed away at 48. On Friday night, after work, he went grocery shopping with the wife. When they got home, he told the wife to go to bed, and he would rest in the easy chair. Later that evening his teen-age son came home and found his dad dead in the chair from a massive heart attack.

Then just a couple years later, another co-worker of mine passed away at 49. He had accepted a job transfer to Texas, and was alone at the new house in Texas. He was apparently cleaning up around the pool, when he felt bad, went to lay down inside on the bed, and had a massive heart attack.

Another co-worker had about 4 weeks until retirement. He was alone on a holiday week-end in a hotel in England. He had a massive heart attack at age 55 and was found dead by the maid.

These three events caused me to re-examine how I long I want to keep working. You never know how many days you have left on this Earth!
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. – Warren Buffett
jackpullo997
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by jackpullo997 »

Dale, people dying of heart attacks in their 40s and 50s ??
Was there a common theme for these people?
Were they obese? Drug users? Heavy drinkers? Workaholics?

Just how common is it to suddenly die of a heart attack in your 50s?
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by SnapShots »

Paul78 wrote:
SnapShots wrote:

Although, I don't want to know ... I think, if we knew the exact number of days we had left ... we would stop more often to smell the flowers, live life more fully and stop worrying about the little stuff.

We would, also, know exactly how much we needed in our 401K. :wink:
A better question would be how many "good" years are you gonna get.
My great grandmother lived to 99 but it seems like at least the last 15 years were not that great. She was still mentally there but was physically falling apart.
That DEFINITELY is the best question. :wink:

However, my mom, who died at the young age of 81, was very ill the last two years of her life, in and out of hospitals. I often thought life was so miserable that mom would prefer to go, instead of struggling.

I was surprised and it was a light bulb moment, when she told me two weeks before the end that she was scared and did not know what to do. I asked, what do you want to do? She said, I want to live!!!!!!

At that moment, I thought ... Please, Lord ... do not let me be put in the position of decision maker. From my perspective her life was unbearable. For my Mom ... life was worth the hardship and pain. Fortunately, she passed away in her sleep.

I think, when you are healthy and young-er ... it's easy to say you'll leave this earth quietly when the going gets tough. In reality, I have not seen it.
the best decision many times is the hardest to do
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by abuss368 »

This is a sad thread. Live each day as if it your last. Money comes second to being happy and surrounded by great friends and family.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by The Wizard »

jackpullo997 wrote:Dale, people dying of heart attacks in their 40s and 50s ??
Was there a common theme for these people?
Were they obese? Drug users? Heavy drinkers? Workaholics?

Just how common is it to suddenly die of a heart attack in your 50s?
It's common if you're a smoker or a former one.
Two co-workers in my old group had this happen, though they did not die due to quick response (at the office).
But one was in a vegetative state for his remaining life and the other recovered but was MUCH more frail henceforth, before passing in his 60's...
Attempted new signature...
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by DaleMaley »

jackpullo997 wrote:Dale, people dying of heart attacks in their 40s and 50s ??
Was there a common theme for these people?
Were they obese? Drug users? Heavy drinkers? Workaholics?

Just how common is it to suddenly die of a heart attack in your 50s?
Joe, the 48 year old guy:
-high stress job
-boss was SOB
-overweight
-smoked
-wife awaiting trial for bank embezzlement
-teenage son in trouble with the law
-Can't get much worse conditions than this

Jim, the 49 year old guy:
-career of high stress jobs, transferring to lower stress job
-changing jobs from one division to another
-had not moved family to new state yet
-overweight
-smoked

Kim, the 55 year old guy:
-low stress job
-4 weeks until retirement
-alone in hotel room in England
-not overweight
-smoked

The first 2 guys held the same high stress job. I have now been doing the same high stress job for about 6 years, and I'm still alive :D :D I have redesigned the systems and procedures used on that job, such that the stress level is much lower.
Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. – Warren Buffett
jackpullo997
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by jackpullo997 »

Is there any evidence that stress causes heart attacks?
It seems like the common thread is smoking.
This correlates to dozens of other unhealthy habits, I am sure.
Impossible to isolate the variable at play.
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

jackpullo997 wrote:Is there any evidence that stress causes heart attacks?
It seems like the common thread is smoking.
This correlates to dozens of other unhealthy habits, I am sure.
Impossible to isolate the variable at play.
[OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]
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jackpullo997
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by jackpullo997 »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
jackpullo997 wrote:Is there any evidence that stress causes heart attacks?
It seems like the common thread is smoking.
This correlates to dozens of other unhealthy habits, I am sure.
Impossible to isolate the variable at play.
[OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]
[Response to OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]

Don't just assume everything you hear is true.
I know TONS of people who are stressed out, and have been for decades, and have not had a heart attack.

[Medical discussion removed by admin LadyGeek]
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by The Wizard »

Stress never bothered me back in the day.
I responded to the challenge.
But I was never a smoker or extremely sedate.
YMMV...
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vested1
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by vested1 »

This thread really hit a nerve. One of my best friends died recently after being diagnosed with lung cancer for less than a year. I knew him well for over 35 years. He actually referred me to my current job after I retired from a mega-corp 5 years ago. We couldn't have been more different in our investing strategies or our politics but I sure had a soft spot for him.

Like the OP, the thing that affected me the most was the question of priorities. He had finally reached his goals, financially and in all other aspects one normally aspires to, and was diagnosed with terminal cancer the same month at 66 years of age.

It makes you wonder how much is enough, especially after you've surpassed your initial modest goals.
am
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by am »

This thread just reafirms that life is extremely unpredictable, nothing new. Depressing somtimes, but not really actionable. I try to do my best in terms of healthy living, maintaining good relationships, saving but also enjoying hard earned money, etc. I know that many other things are beyond my control.
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LadyGeek
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by LadyGeek »

I removed a few comments which triggered an off-topic discussion (health effects of smoking).

Please stay on-topic.
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Dave1
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Dave1 »

Sorry about your co-worker.

We have been having this conversation quite a bit at home these days. In the past 5 years or so a number of people we know about our age (40s) seem to have died. Most of them were accidents which can happen at any age, but still ... We are also more involved with older family members and see the effects of bad health on their life.

That said, we are going to stay the course. We will continue to enjoy our modest lifestyle and save for the future. If everything works out we'll retire earlier than most people and enjoy all the stuff we've looked forward to. If we don't make it too long, the kids will get more, if we do, they get less. One way or the other we figure we're going to come out ahead.
Jtf6
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Re: Death of co-worker

Post by Jtf6 »

The take away I get from this discussion is to focus on physical fitness and personal health as much as possible. You can be financial secure wih a simple three fund lazy portfolio, but maintaining your longevity require a lot of hard work.

Genetic issues asside, how physically active are we? How is our diet? What kind of preventative screenings are we taking?

Using the boglehead method should free us to live the best life possible without the stresses of managing complex finances.
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