Thriving While Grieving
On January 25, 2015, my life, and the lives of my three children, was forever changed. My husband, of 16 years, decided to end his life. The details of what happened that night are not as important as what I did in the following 36 months to survive and, more importantly...THRIVE.
I was swept into a tornado of decision making from planning a funeral, to figuring out financial obligations, and how to communicate with everyone in my extended family and community. In the midst of all of this, meals had to be made, groceries needed to be re-stocked, school was in session, laundry needed washing and my children needed to come home and totally melt down in a place where they felt some resemblance of normalcy and safety. Just as many other widowers with children would agree, we had to begin immediately to define a new set of rules for normalcy or, a “new normal.”
My passion is to help young widows navigate their “new normal” during their first year of loss. When a young widow with children loses a spouse, they are in an uphill battle to deal with all of the economic fallout of raising a family on a substantially lower income. This immediate loss is compounded when a deceased spouse did not have an adequate life insurance policy, or worse yet, No insurance policy, in place. In addition, grief “fog” is a real phenomenon that clouds and paralyzes widows from dealing with the day-to-day tasks of life, child-rearing, etc. Life continues; bills have to be paid and if a widow was not the one who paid the bills, there is a heavy learning curve to understand car payments, mortgages, taxes, investments, and any other financial decisions that the late spouse may have handled.
There are confusing rules regarding medical benefits; time constraints for benefits for COBRA and Social Security benefits that must be filed in a timely fashion--all of this coinciding with planning a funeral and settling an estate.
I was fortunate enough to have a background as a Legal Secretary so some of what I was dealing with and processing made sense to me. Widows can be easily taken advantage of and within a phenomenon called “grief fog”, one cannot navigate who is trustworthy and reliable to assist in all of the financial and paperwork nightmares that face widows. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who worked for a financial advisor who reached out to me and, basically, held my hand through my Social Security caseworker meetings; the transfer of my late husband’s retirement benefits and how to make sure I did not face additional taxable traps and penalties.
My goal is to be a type of “advocate” for young widows through our Widow Thrive community and Widow’s Wish foundation. I believe that supporting widows is a biblical, ethical and moral responsibility. Remarkably, it is difficult to find an organization within a church or community that has a developed program to serve widows during their first year of loss, especially for young widows and their children.
We are looking to partner with individuals and organizations who want to support widows and their children in their greatest time of need.