+
upworthy
Family

A 'death box' may sound morbid, but it's actually a priceless gift for your loved ones

Anyone who's had to manage someone's affairs while grieving knows the value of a Nokbox.

death, dying, estate planning, paperwork

If we don't prepare for our own passing, we leave our loved ones with a painful scavenger hunt.

"Do you have a death box?" my friend asked me out of the blue one day.

I'm sorry? A death box? Like … a casket?

"No, a box of paperwork for when you die," she said. "You need one, trust me. It's the best thing ever. I've given one to all of my immediate family members."

"It's not actually called a 'death box,'" she added as she pulled up a website on her phone. "It's called a Nokbox. Have you ever heard of it?"

I had not. And how the heck did we start talking about me dying?

As she began to explain and show me what the Nokbox was, I understood why she was so adamant about me needing one. She was right. I did need one. We all need one.


Anyone who has ever managed someone's affairs or experienced an unexpected passing of a loved one knows that grief isn't the only thing you have to process when someone dies. We live in an era of legalities and paperwork and official channels and bureaucracy, and that doesn't end when our life on Earth does. In fact, it's a big part of what we leave behind, as annoying as it is.

For instance, do your loved ones have access to your banking information? Credit card accounts? Social media profiles? Most of us would say no, as there's not much of a need for that when we're here. But what if we suddenly weren't? How would our loved ones know how to wrap things up for us?

A Nokbox—short for "next of kin box"—is an organizational system that helps those left behind avoid having to hunt through your files and electronics to close out accounts, notify lenders and other logistical tasks once you have passed away. You could create your own, of course, but the Nokbox does all the basic setup for you. (And no, this isn't an ad. I just greatly appreciate having things organized for me.)

As my Nokbox enthusiast friend explains, "After having some friends lose loved ones, I witnessed the grief coupled with immense stress that came along with trying to deal with the many tangible details left behind—what bills were there to pay and to whom, where were keys, where was a will if there was one, what were the passwords, etc."

Gifting a Nokbox to family members means they all have the same organizational system and know what to look for in the event one of them passes away. "It's the best gift you can give from the other side to your grieving family," she adds.

The Nokbox was created by Maria Fraietta, a teacher and real estate agent from Colorado, after her father passed away in 2021. Even though her father left a will, Fraietta soon realized how much of a scavenger hunt it was to find everything needed to handle his affairs. Figuring out passwords for his bank accounts, credit cards and investments meant hours of guesswork for the family. And what they experienced is painfully common.

Fraietta tells Upworthy she has sold 11,000 boxes working out of her backyard shed and shipping right from her front porch. She says when she started she held test groups in her kitchen to put together the first boxes and figure out every section that would be needed. As people gave her ideas, she added them to the list.

"A few things I forgot at first—storage units, donations to charity, and military service," she says. "I later added a Medicaid folder. It seemed weird to add a medical section at first, because the person has died. But family medical history is important. Medicaid is for you while you're living to manage what is a pretty cumbersome item. I really wanted the box to cover everything, and it does, with the exception of a separate business if people have that. (I am working on a "Biz Box.") The idea is that you can get rid of all of the other papers and files in your home so people—or you—never have to go through them later.

"It's a paper product for that reason as well," she adds. "We all still have paper in our lives, and it has to go somewhere. When you manage an estate, you'll get even more paper. Having one folder or piece of paper to mark everything you have that is digital is a huge help for your NOK [next-of-kin]. So, the product isn't antidigital, but it just keeps track of what we have in the cloud, on our laptops, etc."

The Nokbox comes in a few different choices, from the Nokbox Lite, which includes all of the instructions and labels you need but without any boxes or folders, to the Nokbox Fireproof, which includes everything you need in a fireproof file box.

Fraietta says there are dozens of things in the Nokbox that people don't think about, including in a when-I-die set of documents.

"When people see the box, they thumb through and say, 'Oh yeah, I forgot about that!'" she says. "It's different for everyone. One of my favorites is the list of key friends … let your NOK know of one 'representative' from each of your friend groups … college, book club, neighborhood friends, so they know who to notify, and that person can share with the others in that group. Along those same lines, a quick map of your neighbors is great—often the NOK doesn't know who they should notify and who has a spare key. Regarding having a will—there's a place in the box to indicate that you don't have one, so your NOK doesn't spend years looking for it. I have dozens of examples and stories of things people don't think of. When people look around their homes, they realize there are so many things that only they know how to manage."

No one wants to think about their own death, but everyone would benefit from preparing for the inevitable and enabling loved ones to grieve their passing with as few practical frustrations as possible. Imagine giving someone a gift that will save their loved ones hours of time and frustration in the midst of their time of grief. A "death box" might not seem like a very merry gift, but it truly is a priceless one. For the person who is hard to shop for or who seems to have everything, a Nokbox could be the perfect present, even if it raises an eyebrow or two.


Time travel back to 1905.

Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.






Keep ReadingShow less
Family

Exhausted mom posted a letter begging her husband for help. And then it went viral.

An open letter by Celeste Yvonne shows overwhelmed mothers how to ask for support.

Photo via Celeste Yvonne, used with permission.

Celeste Yvonne wrote a letter to her husband asking for help.

Taking care of a newborn baby is mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausting. For the first four months (at least!), new parents have to dedicate every part of themselves to caring for this young life.

There's little time for self-care during this chaotic period, let alone a moment to be fully present with a partner.

A blogger who goes by the name Celeste Yvonne is the mother of a toddler and a newborn and wrote a revealing open letter to her husband asking for more help with their children. It's going viral because it paints a very real picture of what it feels like to be a mother who feels stuck doing everything.

Keep ReadingShow less
Courtesy of Kisha Rose Woodhouse

Man surprises partner by performing haka alone at her graduation


Graduations can be emotional no matter if it's preschool, high school or college. Something about watching a loved one close one chapter to open a new one just does something to you. But sometimes people have a few more challenges getting across the stage that make it feel even sweeter.

One new mom, Kisha Rose Woodhouse, who goes by @kiisha.rose on TikTok, became pregnant and gave birth while finishing up her college degree. Clearly, determined to finish, Woodhouse walked across the stage at graduation with her baby on her hip. But that wasn't what got people all choked up while seeing her video, it was Woodhouse's partner who stood alone in the auditorium.

The man was visibly filled with pride from Woodhouse's accomplishments when he began doing the Tautoko, also known as the haka. Immediately the auditorium fell silent as the man's words and sharp movements filled the air. Seeing him perform such an emotional dance alone to honor his partner is enough to get just about anyone's eyes to water.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

These before-and-afters will make you question everything about how our economy works

You'd think it was some sort of natural disaster. Nope. Totally man-made.




Images via GooBingDetroit.

Yup. These images were taken only two years apart. And what you're seeing was not an accident.

When the economy crashed in 2008, it was because of shady financial practices like predatory lending and speculative investing, which is basically gambling, only the entire economy was at stake.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Instacart delivery person followed her instincts and ended up saving the life of a customer

"You're supposed to take a picture and leave, and I could not just leave."

Jessica Higgs had a sense that something wasn't right at a customer's house and her action saved his life.

One the more mysterious aspects of being human is our sense of intuition. This "sixth sense" isn't something we can see or measure, but many people have experienced it in some form or fashion. Maybe it comes as a strong feeling that something isn't right, or that we or someone else should or shouldn't do something. It can be hard to read—not every feeling we get is truly our intuition—but there are plenty of examples of people trusting their instincts and being glad they did.

One such story has gone viral on TikTok. Jessica Higgs, a mom who works as an Instacart grocery delivery person, shared a story in an emotional video that illustrates the importance of listening to that inner voice when it prompts you to make sure someone is OK.

"I just want to start this off by saying if you see something, say something," Higgs said.

Keep ReadingShow less