From the Editor: July/August 2013


What’s Taboo to You?

In addition to our regular features this special issue of Rochester Women explores a few “taboo” topics. Consistent with our mission to connect women with each other and the community in a positive way, our taboo subjects aren’t bawdy or vulgar, rude or disparaging. They’re simply subjects that can be difficult (or embarrassing) to talk about. They’re things that should be discussed but often aren’t, subjects that are food for thought, help us plan or make us laugh.

Right off the bat, we tackle the toughest discussion you’ll ever have with a family member (assuming you’ve already covered the birds and the bees): how to prepare yourself and your family for the end of life. In “End-of-Life Arrangements” (pg. 11) we consulted with local attorneys and financial advisors to bring you advice and a glossary of key documents you and your loved ones should be aware of regardless of your current health or age.

This idea stemmed from a painful personal experience of mine that could have been avoided. A year and a half ago my mother passed away after a 14-year battle with cancer. I knew her death was approaching, yet even as I watched her health decline, I could not bring myself to address the business that accompanied the end of her life. I could not bring myself to look at her life insurance policy or draft a power of attorney—it still puts a lump in my throat. So I pushed it off one more day…and one more day and one more…until the day she died.

Within 20 minutes of her death, I was asked what funeral home I wanted to use. I didn’t know. My mother lived in Indiana her whole life and only moved to Minnesota to be with me and my family for one last summer. No one she knew lived here. Would the funeral even be here or should it be in Indiana?

The next day, I learned she had no will, so some of the wishes she expressed verbally before she passed had never been placed in writing and were not legally permissible. I learned I had no access to her bank accounts because she had no pay-on-death beneficiaries and her life insurance policy listed my grandmother (who predeceased her by nine months) as beneficiary.

Not facing the business of my mother’s death didn’t keep it from happening. It just left me with questions and a financial mess that could have been prevented. No one should face the loss of a loved one that way, so this was the taboo topic I wanted to bring to our readers.

Another topic our team felt belonged in a “taboo” issue was homelessness because it is something we rarely talk about as a society but should. Before I edited “Homeless in Rochester” (pg. 24), I didn’t realize there are people in our community living in cars and sleeping near heat vents in alleys. And I never would have guessed 46 percent of Minnesota’s homeless are children. I hope this piece raises your awareness, as it did mine, and makes a difference…no matter how small.

On the other side of the taboo coin lie the embarrassing—and often funny or curious—things in life, like shopping for undergarments if you aren’t a Victoria Secret model or asking your esthetician what a Brazilian wax is. Ever heard of a Vampire Facelift? We’re going to tell you about it on page 19.

We hope you enjoy this special “taboo” issue. It’s not racy or daring, but we hope it starts a conversation.

All the best,