3/30/17

i hate the word "widow"!


As if going through the death of a spouse/partner wasn’t difficult enough, you’re suddenly labeled by everyone as a “widow” as soon as the death occurs.

Unfortunately, there have always been negative stereotypes about what it means to be widowed.

Take these examples from literature:

In order to save face in society, a widow was compelled to announce her loss to the world by her apparel. From Middlemarch by George Eliot: "My dear Celia," said Lady Chettam, "a widow must wear her mourning at least a year.”

Here’s an example of the stereotype of a widowed woman as vulnerable sexual prey from Fantastic-Fables by Ambrose Bierce: ‘A widow weeping on her husband's grave was approached by an Engaging Gentleman who, in a respectful manner, assured her that he had long entertained for her the most tender feelings.’

Until recently (in some cases, it’s still a reality), a widow was left financially destitute by her husband’s death. From the novel, Robin Hood by Walker J. McSpadden: ‘Toward the close of the same day, Rob paused hungry and weary at the cottage of a poor widow who dwelt upon the outskirts of the forest.’

Keep in mind that many of these old stereotypes probably continue to influence how you and others see your changed status. Like all aspects of a new identity, it takes time and baby steps to increase your sense of who you now are and how you want to define yourself.













3/27/17

take the "surprise!" out of anniversary reactions




In our last post, we looked at how to recognize when you’re being ambushed by unexpected anniversary reactions following the death of your spouse/partner.

Now let’s talk about how to cope with these situations.

Anniversary reactions have a way of “sneaking up” and blindsiding us despite our best efforts to avoid them. Even the most subtle sights, sounds, smells, or other reminders can suddenly trigger powerful and often baffling reactions of loss.

Here are some ways to disarm those “sneak attacks”:

A) Take the time to identify what’s touched off your reaction (see our previous post).

B) Give yourself permission to feel the sadness associated with the event you’re remembering.

C) Assure yourself that now that you’re aware of a particular emotional trigger, you can better anticipate it in the future. This will give you greater control in dealing with the situation.

D) Allowing yourself to experience the feelings of loss means you’re taking another step forward in your mourning process.

Keep in mind that although there are always these emotional triggers out there, the pain you feel will become less intense over time.

We’d love to hear about ways you’ve found to cope with anniversary reactions, especially the “sneaky” types.

3/23/17

when anniversary reactions sneak up on you



We've all experienced them: things are going along okay when out of the blue you're suddenly feeling sad or depressed. You can't understand what's hit you. Everything seemed fine and these emotions just don't make sense. Or do they?

Stop and take a minute to ask yourself:

1. Is it the anniversary of a month, day or event that had significance for you or your spouse? While holidays are expected to be difficult, days that represent the "last time" or "our special experience" are just as emotionally loaded and often less obvious as sources of pain.

2.Have you recently revisited places that were special for you or your spouse? Even if it's a different time of year, locations can also trigger feelings of loss.

3. Is the anniversary date/revisit about to come up or just past? One reason these reactions catch us off-guard is because their timing is often unpredictable or unexpected.


We'll discuss ways to cope with anniversary reactions in our next post.

In the meantime, learn more about these experiences.

3/20/17

am I responsible for my spouse’s debts?




In addition to the trauma of your partner’s death, you may also face the burden of his or her financial debts.

Here is some advice from Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com and author of The Credit Card Guidebook:

When is a surviving spouse not responsible for credit card debt?

If a credit card is only in your spouse's name, the debt only belongs to your spouse (there are exceptions to this in community property states). Family members will not be responsible for the debt or forced to pay it. Even if you are a second cardholder on the account who has charging privileges, but it is not a joint account, you are not responsible for the remaining debt.

If the card is only in your spouse's name, the estate is responsible for paying off the balance. The executor of the estate will use the assets to pay off the debts. If the estate doesn't have the money to pay the bill, then credit card companies must write it off and the account is closed.

There are several instances when the surviving spouse is responsible for the credit card debt.If the card is a joint account, this means that your name is also listed on the account and the card is reported on your credit report. You will be responsible for the debt after your spouse dies.

In addition, if you live in a community property state, you could also be responsible for the debt. Assets that are gained together during marriage are classified as joint property in these states.

This can also apply to debt. Debt gained together during marriage is considered joint debt and the surviving spouse is responsible. Rules vary by state. States that use common property laws include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Sometimesthe surviving spouse will only have to pay the debts that he or she benefited from like food, utilities and health care. (read more)