January 26, 2021
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A New Year A New You

January 16th, 2021 by judytalks

I rang in the New Year early (11:15 PM) in Calgary, CA, with my daughter and son-in-law, and woke Jan.1, 2021 to cold but blue skies.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do some soul searching, so, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been making notes of changes I want to put in place. This usually includes personal habits, along with necessary changes for my writing and websites.

A PLAN

This year, both my personal and business changes coincide. I will always be committed to the grief and loss community, with articles and blog posts, plus ebooks on bereavement and moving forward. www.survive-strong.com

At the same time, I’m devoting my second website www.judystrong.com to the process of rebuilding your life as you heal and recover from loss, or simply want to make a change.

If you’re thinking of making changes, or ringing in a whole brand New You, take a look at an outline I have for getting a plan up and running. Jot down ideas and questions for yourself, and see what evolves. 

It certainly isn’t a slam dunk project. But neither is it rocket science. Here’s what it’ll take.

I like to be organized and focused, so my routine is to make a plan. I prefer a simple and workable plan that motivates me to get going, and leads to a sound and sustainable result. When my head is fuzzy, I have to remind myself that jumping into something unprepared is not going to work. The times I’ve done this, it results in half-baked changes and defeat. Awhile back, I decided to start a blog for retirees and a website for senior women and money, because it seemed interesting and beneficial. However, I didn’t take enough time to research material and finally had to admit that change for its own sake is short-lived.

New Life Plan  

If you’re thinking of making changes, or ringing in a whole brand New You, take a look at an outline I have for getting a plan up and running. Jot down ideas and questions for yourself, and see what evolves. 

It certainly isn’t a slam dunk project. But neither is it rocket science. Here’s what it’ll take.

  •   Commitment
  •   Focus
  •   Patience

This is you moving forward. You know best what you want and need, to give yourself the New Life you’ll love. I’m happy to share my Table of Contents outline for New Life Plans, with general explanations for doing your own plan. Give some thought to what needs to change, and what you really want going forward.

 Table Of Contents 

  1. Evaluate your current life, focusing on reasons for change.

     What do you need to keep?

     What is missing and needs replacing?

    How would you like a new life to look? Concentrate here.

 2. Explore and gather options for your new life.

    Start with the most pressing needs – job/money, relocate, education.

   Add ideas/wishful options to consider – those back burner dreams.

   A vision board or categorized list helps to get a good picture of what you’re thinking.

3.  Sort and choose the best options for your life plan.

     Take your time here, but strike a balance. Need – Wishful – Want

     Figure what it will take, financially and personally, for this change.

     Do research, visit locations, determine costs and imagine your new life. Make choices when you’re completely sure.

4.  Make your plan to move forward.

    Write it down, flesh it out, list the details, determine the how’s, what’s and when’s.

    Make the contacts you’ll need to carry it out – for jobs, housing, socializing, health,         whatever.

    Share your life plan with those close to you. Friends and family may be happy for you, or think you’re nuts. Oh well.

5.  Commit to your plan every day.

Start Here

Start with a good evaluation of what your life looks like now. As you follow along, you may not be able to implement some of the items, but spend time every day working on your plan. You can always edit and make changes, make a plan for 6 months or a year or more, knowing that you’re in the driver’s seat.

The Benefits Of Change

  1. A sense of control over your own life. You’re in the driver’s seat.
  2. A true evaluation of the status quo. Seeing assets alongside liabilities.
  3. A feeling of energy to head out and make it happen. 
  4. A positive attitude that fuels your endeavor.
  5. A sense of accomplishment for carving out a new life.

You’re in the Driver’s Seat.  Good Luck!

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Grief And The Holidays

December 17th, 2020 by judytalks

A Plan For Expressing Joy When You’re Dealing With Grief

How will you celebrate in the face of a deadly virus, a real threat to our lives and our livelihood?

It’s the season of celebration, the time of year when national/religious holidays are honored and enjoyed by millions of people everywhere. 

Traditionally, families gather, friends give parties, and homes are often decorated to hail the season. This time of year fills us with a sense of both peace and excitement. We wouldn’t miss it for the world. 

But what do you do when you’re traumatized by a deep loss? A loved one has died, you’ve lost your job, or your home, and you’re in deep grief?

Loss and mourning bring deep pain and a sense of loneliness that is indescribable. The company of friends and family can bring comfort, as I learned when I lost my husband, but the holidays can also be particularly heart-rending. 

And today, if you are one of those people who has recently experienced a deep loss, here are a few things you can do to make your enjoyment of the holidays uplifting, instead of feeling sad and empty.

Make a plan and start it with memories. Savor each tradition, the fun ones and some more serious, and carefully choose the ones that put a smile on your face.

As you remember past holidays, how have you celebrated? Traditionally, everyone’s in a good mood, music plays continually, certain foods and drink are offered, and other activities are set aside to make room for the fun things. How did you ever get it all done? So many parties, pot lucks, lunches, craft workshops, relative visiting, and shopping.

You might think “I’m going to sit this one out. I can’t manage, it’s too painful and I have nothing to celebrate.”

A plan will relieve the anguish of grief and loss.

How can you express your traditions simply  and quietly, while everyone else is dashing around and making merry?

First, know that you can enjoy your holiday while in mourning. Things are not the same when you have suffered a deep loss. Your plan will reflect those traditions that bring you a sense of peace and wellbeing. They can be expressed, though perhaps altered somewhat. We did this the year my husband died.

When I lost my husband, the Holidays were upon us. My husband entered the hospital a week after Thanksgiving for knee surgery, but instead had angioplasty to remove the blockage in two coronary arteries. That was followed by emergency neurosurgery, a series of strokes, brain damage and death on January 8. 

Christmas that year was very different, and difficult, as we made daily trips to the hospital. Three of my four children were living at home – a daughter in community college and two teenaged boys. My oldest daughter was living and working in another state. She returned home for Christmas vacation. 

We approached the Holidays as a time to celebrate what was most dear to us, while a family member struggled with insurmountable health issues. We decorated the tree, made cookies, and bought presents for one another. We also kept friends and other family members informed of the situation. Our plan was simple, and easily carried out. It allowed us to express traditions while coping with our difficult situation. Nearly every day at the hospital brought a new crisis to deal with.

 The Plan

Today, as you think about the up and coming holiday you cherish, make a plan that serves your situation. Recognize the pain you’re still experiencing, and what aspects of celebration will bring you a sense of calm and peace.

Fun and merriment may be out of the question this year. Though friends and family may send you best holiday wishes, connecting will be difficult. Make a clear plan of what you want – and are up to. A plan will give you parameters for celebrating a holiday you love. 

What has always been your favorite part? Is there a religious aspect to your regular celebrations and, if so, how will you express that this year? Are you up to any festivities at all? 

Importantly, what soothes you? Is it music? The communication with friends? Choosing gifts for family and close friends? For how many days will you be celebrating before the actual day that you’re remembering?

Time honored traditions help keep us balanced. Setting aside time for habits and beliefs brings a sense of security and wellbeing. As the company of friends and family bring comfort and solace, so do we feel a part of a larger group of persons who share those traditions. 

Today, it is possible to recreate much of those traditions on the internet. Activities of every kind may be found with some research, from religious, to social, to crafting ornaments for the tree. Start early to set up calls that involve several people. In my family, if we wait ’til the last minute, there’s always someone who “can’t make it that day, or that time”. Firm it up.

Lastly, what brings you real joy? Whether it’s the spiritual aspect, music of the season, foods you “always have”, or secret Santa gifts, choose a few and make a plan.

Your plan should be written down, fixed in your mind and firm. It doesn’t have to be lengthy and detailed, just a reminder of what matters to you this year. This is part of what I call “putting the ball in your court”. The emotional upheaval that accompanies mourning will hit when you least expect it.

You may feel overwhelmed by your grief, swallowed in isolation and unable to participate in some favored traditions. You, and only you can decide what you do, and for how long. Your plan should be based on the following considerations:

Interacting with people, digitally or in the flesh. Just smile and say “goodbye” when you’ve had enough.

Outside activities and shopping trips. Your energy levels will fluctuate. Sit down or head for the car.

Music and movies. Switch the channel, turn it off or take a walk.

                     Put The Ball In Your Court

It’s your choice to make major changes to your holiday events.

  •  You may buy a gift or a tree ornament for a deceased loved one. 
  • Isolation may prompt you to set up extra digital visits with family members and friends.
  •  Donating to a charity in someone’s name may start a new tradition for you. 
  •  Sharing homemade items are perfect ways of managing the ups and downs of mourning. These may include baked goods, crafted pinwheels or stars for the tree (crayons and glitter), or needlework items. Some people write poems for the occasion. 

Concentrating on creativity eases the emotional and mental pain you are experiencing.

Comfort comes from an inner sense of understanding, supported by the warmth of friends, family, and the remembrance of those things we hold dear.

At this joyous time of year, I wish you the happiest of Holidays. I am familiar with celebrating while in mourning, and I assure you, with some thought and planning, it can be a time of peace and joy. This year is like no other, but a cherished celebration is a permanent fixture in our hearts and minds.

If you are planning specific ways to celebrate this year, please consider sharing them. Ideas and goodwill inspire more joy and affirm that some bonds are never broken.

I wish you well,

Judy

Losing Your Independence

March 30th, 2020 by judytalks

The world wide pandemic that hit our planet has threatened our very lives, and sent us into confinement. Our health,  jobs and social life have been thrown into chaos, and it’s hard to determine, from day to day, which is worse:  What we know or what we don’t know. We know leaders everywhere are struggling to cope with it, and citizens are trying to adapt to new rules about staying home indefinitely.  We also know there is an abundance of information that can change in a matter of hours.

What Is Happening?

What do we call the situation we’re in?  We’re experiencing a deep and confusing sense of loss. When you lose something you love or need for your well being, you suffer that loss. Combined with fear and anxiety, our emotions are taking a beating.

Those initial feelings are compounded with incessant questions about our preparedness for dealing with this monster.

How is it spread? What are the symptoms? Have I touched something that’s contaminated? Did I wash my hands long enough?

What exactly have we lost? Essentially we’ve lost that sense of independence, of feeling secure wherever we go and who we’re with. Routine, everyday habits, social gatherings, and job-related issues for those who work away from home, are now jeopardized or completely gone.

The immediate effects of loss are uncertainty and confusion. Whatever was in place in our daily lives has been wiped out. It’s like going down a long, narrow flight of stairs without a railing. If it’s also dark and you’re carrying something, it’s even more distressing.

You can no longer take things for granted. Those positive, dependable measures are no longer in place. Though “home” may be your favorite place in the world, being confined 24/7 for an indefinite time creates a brand new situation.

Trying to re-adjust and manage under the circumstances becomes difficult and usually annoying. Add to that, there’s a sense of  abandonment, and you begin to feel angry. Everything was going well, your routine was in place, and you felt secure.

What Can We Do?

I know how important it is to take charge of your life when you’ve been dealt a crushing blow. I’m a grief facilitator, writer and survivor. One of the most difficult tasks, when you are in a state of grief or loss, is to be assertive, and take back your  life. Putting the ball in your court is necessary and effective. Doing it is another matter. It requires making a complete turnaround from wondering what’s going on, to deciding what is actually happening in YOUR life, not the entire world’s.

What’s Happening In My World

I am in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with my daughter and son-in-law. Through I have lived in Arizona most of the last 18 years, I came here from Texas. Eventually, I’ll be returning to Arizona. Right n0w, the three of us are staying put as much as possible. Daughter Jennifer is a substitute teacher. Her job stopped when the schools closed. Son-in-law Jim brought work and supplies home yesterday, and he’ll be home bound until further notice. I’ve been here since December 17, 2019, when I came for Christmas and was invited to “stay as long as you like”. I may be here for quite awhile.

Though we’re aware that the numbers keep going up for those infected and at home, those hospitalized and for fatalities, we are relatively safe. Our job is to avoid contact, shop prudently and wash hands, wash hands, wash hands. We also are disinfecting anything that comes into the house – newspapers, grocery bags, boxes, shoes – ANYTHING.

It’s critical now that all of us find ways to stay optimistic and focused. Take an online class (Jennifer is learning French), do home maintenance or repairs that you can manage, stay in touch with friends and loved ones through apps or face time, and read some good books. And while you’re at it, project over the next few weeks and months what you’ll do when this is slowing down and it’s safe to venture out. Now that we know what it’s like to be really cooped up, plan a way to celebrate freedom. Losing your independence is beyond a learning experience; it can be a motivating factor to cherish the times when you’re in control of your life.

What Are You Doing?

Sharing stories is a great way to connect. It’s also a way for offering ideas and solutions to problems you’ve solved.

Have an interesting incident you’d like to share? Got a funny story? An innovative way to stay sane? Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions or share a story.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Judy

 

 

Fractured Finances

April 25th, 2016 by judytalks

Fractured Finances

Female?  Thinking of retiring? Think carefully and get out your calculators.

Financially secure retirement for women is a thing of the past.

One in four older single women lives below the poverty line.

The sad truth is that women simply don’t save enough for retirement, and the financial security they had as wives can quickly disappear.

According to CNBC (2016/03/18) 36% of unmarried women and 29% of married women think they need less than $250,000.00 for retirement. At the same time, the majority of men think they need $500,000.00 for retirement.

There’s a strong disconnect here. Women usually live longer than men, they earn less than men, and, when widowed or divorced, their spendable income is considerably less. How is it they are so naïve about the cost of living?

For women retired or nearing retirement, here are some critical facts to help explain this puzzle.

  • Girls are not taught the purpose and importance of money.
  • Earning, for women isn’t as important as for men.
  • Women don’t always prioritize saving for retirement.
  • When men are promoted, it’s based on their future value to the company. When women are promoted, it’s based on past performance.

How has this worked for women in America?

One in four older single women lives below the poverty line. Most of these women lived middle class lives when they were married. Even though couples have savings and investment plans, when she’s alone the income isn’t sufficient.

The differences in women’s and men’s work records are significant.

  • Women interrupt their careers to care for children or adults who need help.
  • Women’s pay is lower.
  • Women often don’t get a pension.
  • Women save less than men

All of these facts mean a reduction in her retirement finances.

  • Less social security
  • Less money in a 401k
  • A portfolio that is below what she needs

 

By the time she is alone, her options have narrowed. Her only choice may be to start a new job in retirement.

Many women and men are doing just that. A hobby may become a small business, some companies specialize in hiring retirees, and there are affordable franchises especially designed for seniors.

The big issue is that this shouldn’t be happening to women.

  • If she cannot work, she becomes dependent on family members for help.
  • For lack of information, women have made irreversible mistakes regarding Investments, housing, and care options.
  • It’s simply unacceptable for women to be in this situation.

The rising cost of living eats into spendable income, but drawing out money from savings has negative consequences. The result could be something like the obituary that follows:

It is with regret that we inform you of the death of your financial assets.

Your extensive portfolio had been in ill health for quite some time. Though several experts in the field of money management had examined said assets, the diagnosis was unanimous. Terminal.

Your portfolio began life on May first, 1981, with a deposit of $100.00. It grew as a traditional IRA, receiving annual deposits of varying amounts until 2004. No deposits have been made since that year.

The company which held the IRA, No Holds Barred, has deposited the last $100.00 in a cash fund, to be collected by the holder of the IRA, Ms. Jane A Doe.

Of course, no such item would ever be posted, but the results are the same. Only one third of women over 65 are married. That leaves a lot of single older women living on the assets that two people accumulated. The interesting thing is that when a husband survives his wife, he has almost no financial problems.

Where can you go to learn how to save and manage your money?

Many financial websites now have information especially for women. Much of it is not specific as to individual needs and situations. However, it is a start.

Here is a short list to begin your research for a more complete and secure financial retirement.

www.womensmoney.org

www.wife.org

www.cnbc.com

www.fidelity.com

Google keywords to find a variety of websites that address different aspects of the financial situation facing women. Look for articles and educational insights especially for women, subscribe to newsletters, and make note of the top financial issues. Whether you are now retired or thinking about it, the cost of living will not go down. Get your ducks in a row now.

The Facts About Seniors and Fraud

April 8th, 2016 by judytalks

Moving forward following a loss means building a new life. Who you are now may be very different from the person who lost a loved one. The changes taking place prompt learning as a survivor begins to thrive.

Understanding the place and purpose of money is often difficult for older women. This may lead to mistakes in managing your money. The last blog post told the true story of an unsuspecting lady who lost a large sum of money. My research regarding scams and fraud turned up useful information for identifying these crimes.

The following is an article for you to read and save.

The Facts About Seniors And Fraud

Scamming is a billion dollar international business. It targets anyone with a telephone or mailing address. Senior citizens are particularly vulnerable.

There are no solid statistics regarding the number of seniors who are victims of fraud, because many never report it. It’s estimated, however, that one in 20 persons over 65 have been victimized, while only one in 44 ever report it.

Scams are often perpetrated by a phone call or letter. Both appear legitimate. Impressive letterheads and references to titles and offices imply authority. However, there are telltale signs that it’s not for real. Sentence structure is often awkward, with numerous grammatical and spelling errors.

According to the FBI, older citizens are easy to scam because they are too polite and trusting. Con artists easily exploit these traits, drawing people into well-rehearsed pitches, and then steal their nest eggs. Because of their reluctance to hang up or authenticate the letter, the money is gone.

The reasons senior citizens rarely report fraud:

  • Don’t know where or how to report it
  • Concerned that relatives will think them mentally incompetent
  • Too embarrassed to admit it

What can be done? Early detection results in stopping fraud in its tracks. There are two levels of detection and prevention in the US:

  • Federal programs inform and educate.
  • Community programs train employees to spot suspicious activities.

Banks train employees to be on the alert for irregularities when doing business with customers. A suspicious signature, a withdrawal for an unusually high amount, or a transaction that doesn’t fit the profile for this customer may elicit a conversation for clarification. It may save someone from financial disaster.

Communication and money transfer companies, such as Western Union, now train employees to recognize potential fraud. Partnering with law enforcement and individual detection experts can greatly increase awareness of identity theft and other forms of fraud.

Family members need to be aware that their loved ones are aggressively targeted. Thousands of products and services being sold seem legitimate. Many have specific appeal to seniors. Health aids, financial insights, cognitive and memory games and anti-aging products are especially popular, and it’s difficult to spot the scams.

When elderly citizens do report, they usually make poor witnesses because

  • Memory may be impaired.
  • It may be difficult to admit they have been swindled.
  • Weeks or months may have passed before reporting.

A government website that has information on all aspects of fraud, scams and identity theft:

https://fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors.

Careful reading will help you to become familiar with all the kinds of fraud and how to spot them. Shop wisely, safeguard your nest egg, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

A Google search turned up a long list of websites for “how to identify and prevent scams.”  These are from a variety of sources.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-ways-avoid-fraud

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-ways-to-avoid-online-scams

http://lifehacker.com/how-to-identify-and-avoid-the-most-common-telephone-sca-1692068970

http://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/7-online-scams-and-how-to-avoid-them/

http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/credit-debit-card-fraud.html

Billions of dollars are stolen every year from people of all ages. Senior Citizens are a prime target.

Don’t take chances with your nest egg. And if you think you’ve been scammed, call the police.

Scams and Other Business Ventures

April 1st, 2016 by judytalks

Scammers target everyone and anyone. Older persons are particularly vulnerable. Many people in this age group live alone, and many are in the stages of bereavement. Their emotional resistance is low, and they generally are not suspicious people. Here is a sad but true story of one woman who believed the documents she received were authentic. Education is the best preventive measure for stopping crimes of this kind. You can find relevant information on the Internet and from banks and other financial institutions.

 

Scams and Other Business Ventures

Will you be next? Can you protect yourself or your loved ones from fraud? Stories like this one happen to millions of people every day.

The first letter was sent out on letterhead, informing her that she was a winner in a promotional draw.  Her prize was $850,000.00. It had been deposited in Bank of America, and had been insured.

The letter appeared to come from the International Gaming Commission Sweepstakes & Lottery in Washington, DC. It stated that she should keep the entire details of the award “strictly from public notice”. In other words: Don’t Tell Anyone. The recipient of this letter was a 79-year-old woman, widowed, with a modest income and some investments.

The second letter appeared to come from the US Department of the Treasury, acknowledging her as a winner, stating the amount of her prize, and informing her that  “… the amount you will have to take care of is $30,000.00 and it will have to be made payable to our chief accountant which that name will be given to you later.” The rest of the letter gave instructions to contact her “representative” whose name and phone number were provided, with a security code she should use.

Despite the impressive letterhead, the documents had numerous mistakes.  There were typos and   poor grammar throughout. For example, the first sentence of the letter from the Gaming Commission  says:  “Congratulations to you as we bring to your notice, the results of the First (3rd) Category draws of International Gaming Commission SWEETSTAKES.” And in paragraph three “… the total prize money of US$ 29,000000.00….”

Many people receiving such correspondence would immediately recognize it as fraud. This particular woman did not. She believed it to be authentic and promptly called her financial planner to pay the alleged taxes. She insisted that she couldn’t tell him why she needed the money.

Needless to say, this was a red flag to him. He was reluctant to make the transaction and asked her to wait until he returned from his vacation a week later.  Somehow, she was able to make the payment herself.

The $30,000.00 is gone. The lady is poorer but wiser. But the scammers probably will never be caught.

Don’t let yourself be the next victim.

Grief and Financial Security

March 25th, 2016 by judytalks

Grief and Financial Security

Bereavement is a period of time in which grieving persons mourn the loss of a loved one. Ideally, the griever begins to rebuild his or her life and move forward. Letting go of that essential person is nearly impossible. Counting all the other losses takes some time.

When someone dies, there is often a change in the financial picture for survivors. A spouse, with or without children, may experience a considerable reduction in resources, especially if the spouse is female.

Recovery is hard enough. Moving on with diminished finances puts her and any dependents at risk.

The following article is one I wrote and posted on LinkedIn. It explains this critical and frightening situation.

 

Do You Know Where The Bones Are Buried?

What happens to the household income when someone dies? For as many as half of all widows, fifty percent of household income may be lost when a spouse dies.

At the same time their expenses only decrease by one-fourth to one-third. What happens to that household income? Where was it coming from and where did it go? Why are women so adversely affected by financial issues?  The fact is, when a man loses his wife, the financial situation is minimally affected.

The problem really starts much earlier. Work patterns of women are, first of all, considerably different from those of men. Full time work for many years isn’t the norm. Women may work part time, take time out for child care and/or caring for parents or other family members, and wages for women continue to lag behind pay for men. By the time they retire, their social security is less, and often there is no pension. Is it any wonder that of the 3.4 million elderly poor in America, 70 percent are women?

For a widow to avoid a serious drop in her circumstances, she needs to know where the bones are buried. This begins with educating women about earning, investing, and spending from a young age.

Older women usually have little knowledge of finances. And many younger women with careers prefer to leave the investment decisions to spouses or professional money managers. Busy with family and job responsibilities, they leave their future up to people who don’t consider the disparities in retirement benefits.

Couples may both retire at the same time, or not. But the wife’s social security benefits are almost always lower than the husband’s. Whatever they may collect when both are alive, if she survives him, she must choose whose benefit she receives – hers or his but not both. If she doesn’t receive a pension, or his doesn’t have survivor benefit checked, her resources may be slim.

Couples can begin to plan for her security while both are still working. Life insurance is a very good option, but many couples are underinsured. Updating to accommodate the rising cost of living is necessary, because if she is the survivor, her expenses will only decrease by one-fourth to one-third. Life insurance is not taxed and may be distributed in several ways.

When you purchase life insurance, make sure you know how it will be distributed – lump sum, quarterly, monthly, or checks you write for a specific amount until it’s gone. You may or may not have a choice.

If the deceased spouse had a long illness, the wife may have taken time off from her career to care for him. Expenses for the illness may also have decreased their investments. By the time she is alone, all of her resources – mental, physical, emotional, and financial are very low.

According to wife.org, one-third of widows are under sixty. Since widows can’t apply for social security until they are sixty, she will have to figure out how to pay the bills from what she earns and what she can take from other sources. If there are children still living at home, the financial problems can be severe.

I was widowed when I was fifty. As an author and educator, my involvement with the grieving community has taught me a great deal about death and the problems of survivors. The plight of widows in America is greater than that of other developed countries. What can we do – what can you do – to change this unacceptable situation, and provide women with the same financial security that men have?

It’s your future. Manage it well.

 

 

Intangible Gifts

November 29th, 2015 by judytalks

Free gifts Are Especially Nice At Christmas

The brain-wracking task of what to get people at Christmas puts everyone in a bad mood.

Something practical or something pretty. What did they get last year? How about a gift card?

Maybe a fantastic dinner and a show.

There’s a way out of this dilemma.

There are some gifts that can be given any time for any reason. They’re free and are generally appreciated by everyone who receives them. They are the intangible gifts, the giving of those things that have no price tag, and can be given anytime.

These gifts are appreciated whenever they are given, but are especially nice to give to someone who is grieving and in deep need of heartfelt and loving consideration.

Holidays aren’t happy, exciting affairs when you’re mourning. There’s no feeling of joy, no urge to celebrate with friends or family. There’s often lingering pain and a sense of isolation that accompanies mourning, especially when all around you are celebrating and you feel sad. It’s just a period of time to get through and move on.

When someone you care about is in bereavement, here are 5 intangible gifts that may be given over and over, any time of the year, and are always joyfully received.

  1. Give your time
  2. Give your energy
  3. Give your ideas
  4. Give your support
  5. Give your love

How can these precious gifts be given?

First, stay close-by. Grievers feel isolated and unsociable. Drop by, phone, email or text regularly, just to say hi.

Be a good listener. Often, well-meaning friends want to give advice. But careful listening gives the other person a chance to say what’s really on their mind.

Extend invitations to gatherings and offer to pick them up.

Run errands together. Trips to the grocery store, library, dry cleaners, pharmacy or bank can include a quick stop for lunch or coffee.

Plan an afternoon for baking, wrapping gifts, or doing some decorating together.

Talk about the person who died. If you knew and miss that person, say so.

Suggest a small memory item for the holiday they celebrate, such as a tree ornament or a donation in the deceased person’s name.

Again, stay close and in touch. All the intangible gifts can be given over and over again.

 

For more tips and ideas about grief at holiday time, or just in general, click on the Articles tab.

Stay well,

Judy

Remembrances

October 24th, 2015 by judytalks

Remembrances

The death of a loved one is accompanied by deep emotional pain, pain that can’t be dismissed. The longing to hold on to that irreplaceable person is profound, and letting go is unthinkable.

Amidst all of the practical things that must be done – notifying people, planning services, going over finances and legal issues – there is a desire to create a remembrance, a legacy that says this person’s life mattered.

A memorial or legacy can be accomplished in different ways, and you can have several if you wish. Often, a legacy is included in the settling of the estate. Honoring the life of the loved one may be done by giving a gift of money to an organization, college or university. Other means include the gift of a special collection, scholarship, garden, or a wing on a building. There may also be a monetary gift that is designated for a specific purpose, such as a charity for medical, educational, or civic projects.

Personal memorials are commonly done by individuals who send a donation to a foundation that researches an illness or disability associated with the deceased. All in all, remembering a person whose life touched yours in a deep and personal way helps the process of letting go.

It’s important for grievers to acknowledge the difficulty of the mourning period. It’s a time to actively assess the relationship that has ended, and determine how you wish to make a part or parts of your life rich and meaningful, despite your loss.

A remembrance may be a place of peace or an active, ongoing celebration that you can return to when you wish to renew your connection to that irreplaceable person.

Healing takes place by remembering, not forgetting.

Judy

 

No Time To Grieve A Survivor’s Guide To Loss And Healing

September 25th, 2015 by judytalks

No Time To Grieve A Survivor’s Guide To Loss And Healing

When a death occurs, it’s likely that the family has little information for solving the problems of grief and loss. The competing factors of emotional pain and practical responsibilities leave little time and energy for grievers to do the hard work of mourning their loss.

Death knocks on every door, often unexpectedly, and those who mourn are usually ill-prepared to cope. Fear, sadness and anxiety often become everyday emotions. Meanwhile, the responsibilities associated with handling an estate stare you in the face.

For those families who have experienced the death of a loved one, it becomes clear that there is certainly a need for death education in our society.

The important question to ask is whether you have in place what you would need to handle these responsibilities.

Legal matters before a death occurs include a do not resuscitate document, a living will, and an individual’s wishes for disposition of the body and final resting place. Handling the estate following the death has numerous considerations. A will, trust, military records, marriage/divorce papers, social security, and dependent children just to start. Finances include investments, pensions, property, cash flow, and taxes.

Those of us who have had such an event in our lives would have benefitted from a guide book that gave pertinent information and support as we struggled to manage every day. Had we known, we might have had paperwork in order, discussions completed, and a clear understanding of the emotional needs of the bereaved.

In our society death education usually comes after the fact, leaving survivors grasping at straws, and undermining the deep need to mourn completely and appropriately.

Resources abound for getting your affairs in order. Estate lawyers, community classes, and the internet all give pertinent information for you to consider. A good choice might be a thorough and relevant book that you can read and keep handy for reference from time to time. One that you can carry in purse or briefcase would be ideal.

The benefits of such an excellent reference book would begin with a comprehensive list of issues associated with bereavement. Deep grief affects every aspect of our being – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. There is pain, fatigue, confusion, and anger, as well as other feelings and considerations. Where to begin?

For now, let’s start with the first responsibility you face – services. In general, there are reviewals, funerals, memorial services, gatherings of mourners, or a combination of all or a few of these acknowledgements.

If you plan to get your affairs in order, you may wish to start researching the above named services for consideration. Whatever your age or situation, keep a notebook with your ideas and preferences listed. You may also want to confer with clergy, spiritual leaders, or family for insight and suggestions.

In the years I have been writing on this subject, preparation or lack thereof regarding death and loss has been a leading cause of either consternation or peace of mind for those who mourn.

Keep your references and notes in easy reach, knowing that whenever it is needed, you have made important choices.

My website: www.survive-strong.com

Amazon page: www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

I wish you well,

Judy

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