Mother’s Day for Roseann LaCombe meant camping with her three daughters on the beach near their St. Petersburg, Fla., home. During last year’s trip, Roseann complained of mild leg pain. Later, she couldn’t bear weight on the leg and went to the hospital, where doctors kept her for observation. The next morning her eldest daughter, Brittney, then 20, received a call informing her that her mother had died of a pulmonary embolism.
Without life insurance, the girls’ financial struggle started immediately. Roseann had worked in accounts receivable for an apparel company, but was unemployed at the time of her death and left only $300 in her bank account. Brittney’s part-time job as a customer-service representative at a local newspaper was no match for the bills.
A week after Roseann died, shut-off notices arrived for the electric and water services, and the bank called every day looking for payment on the mortgage for their three-bedroom house with a pool. By the end of the month the girls, with help from Catholic Charities, moved to a small apartment. To make the rent and take care of her sisters, Brittney works full time.
The new life is taking a toll on Brittney. She was forced to cut her course load toward a social-work degree to work more hours. She suffers from anxiety, worrying that even such a meager lifestyle could unravel at any moment. “If my mom had had life insurance, we would have been able to stay in our house and pay the bills,” Brittney says. “We wouldn’t have to struggle all the time.”