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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.

 

 

From surviving to thriving

July 15th, 2014 by judytalks

Can  you remember the last time someone in your family died? Perhaps you were a child whose elderly great-uncle died, or maybe someone young was tragically killed in an accident. Consider for a few minutes where comfort came from. Who reached out to you, to your family?

Surviving the loss of a loved one is very difficult and very personal. To begin to move toward healing and a sense of yourself as a thriving person requires an understanding of what has happened to you, not just your loved one.

Where do we go for the death education we never got? There are many resources available today that weren’t around 20 years ago. The internet is an ideal place for up-to-date resources. Books, articles, e-books, groups, camps, professional counselors, and faith-based spiritual centers are in touch with the needs of grievers.

For my part, I have just published an e-book on Kindle, titled From Surviving to Thriving  Finding Comfort Following Loss. Based on personal experience, and research from the professional community, this e-book gives comfort, support, and clear directives for processing your grief. It takes time to manage the pain and begin to move forward.  As you walk through this difficult time in life, you will become aware  of the resources already inside you.  Emerging whole and confident allows you to begin to visualize a new life built on memories and a clear sense of who you can become.

I wish you well,

Judy

For my Kindle books:  www.amazon.com/author/judystrong

A Look At Grief – When Life Stops

October 29th, 2012 by judytalks

When the life of someone you love stops, the part of your life that you shared with that person stops also. It’s abrupt and it’s painful. Suddenly everything changes because life as you knew it has stopped.
Does it matter whether there was time to prepare? Having your loved one in hospice care may give you the opportunity to talk about life, death, survivor concerns, and last wishes. But this isn’t always possible, or isn’t discussed. Talking about the past can take precedence over the present moment, often leaving survivors with no knowledge about the state of affairs they will have to handle.
Death education is almost never talked about in our society. We have a denial/dismissal attitude, preferring to believe that we’ll “cross that bridge when we come to it.” But, often, there is no warning, or the subject never comes up. The face of grief is more than emotional pain and confusion. Though deep sadness accompanies the death of a loved one, time and energy may have to be devoted to legal and financial issues, sometimes with little knowledge of the facts of the estate.
As a survivor, speaker, and grief facilitator, I have looked into the faces of many people of all ages who were overwhelmed with responsibility. Women, especially, are affected by financial issues, though men may be also. Men usually are not prepared to run a household or prepare meals.
Is there a reason we, as a society, can’t face the fact of death? Can we begin to educate ourselves as to the realities of loss and survivorship? Where did this come from, and how can we change it?
I’d like to make a difference in this aspect of life. As a survivor, my children and I know the pain of losing someone. With minor children and no will, I had to go to probate court. I needed a better job, and there weren’t the grief groups around then that there are now. But we can still do better.
Any ideas? Suggestions? Comments? Please email me. jstrong@survive-strong.com
Judy

The First 24 Hours

October 16th, 2012 by judytalks

When crisis strikes, the first 24 hours are crucial to everyone’s well-being. Shock and emotional upheaval take over and render you helpless in a situation that requires calm and clear decision-making. What do you do?

Sudden illness, accident, or assault are all critical situations that affect not only the individual in crisis, but those who care about them. You may find that you must make important choices that will affect everyone. Where do you go for help?

When my husband was in ICU, I had to make critical decisions about his treatment that would affect the whole family, immediately and for the rest of our lives. I found that there are professionals who can give good insight, without persuading you of any particular choice. They see these situations daily and can guide you to a conclusion that you can live with. I also realized that my own intuition gave me a good idea of what we needed as a family.

Friends and extended family members sometimes offer advice that is well-intended, but this is your situation, not theirs. Standing your ground may be difficult in the face of what is happening. It’s important that you understand who will be living with these choices, and make that clear to others.

When you find yourself in turmoil, whether the first 24 hours or days or weeks afterwards, you may need to center yourself and take time to think clearly. If you are in the habit of giving yourself quiet time or meditation every day, this will serve you well. If not, now would be a good time to begin your own program for peace and clarity.

Trauma can strike anytime. It’s impossible to be completely prepared for the awfulness that can result from a sudden illness or accident. But when you have devoted yourself to a calming frame of mind, you will be able to implement it anytime, anywhere.

Think about setting aside a few minutes today to begin quiet time for yourself. You may find you can’t imagine a day without it.

Judy

Season of Holidays

November 8th, 2011 by judytalks

Summer blazed out of Arizona in a day, and brisk autumn was upon us the next. The cold, crisp air is refreshing to me, a native midwesterner, but I prefer to have the seasons merge more slowly, so I can get used to different temperatures.

With autumn comes the Season of  Holidays, celebrations of a wide variety, and all having their respective traditions, from costumes and candy to the spiritual traditions from different faiths.

A common tradition of most holidays is gift giving. In the purest sense, this is a sincere offering to someone important in your life, as a gesture of love and friendship. As we all know, however, the giving of gifts can become a mad rush to buy things for everyone and anyone, often the only real expression of the keeping of the holiday.

The difficult economic problems may actually have a positive influence this holiday season. Handmade gifts, or better yet, the gift of yourself in time spent with or for another can be a blessing, and may even become a tradition. The possibilities are endless for helping someone, and exchanging gifts of helpfulness can start or deepen a friendship.

The origin of most gift giving traditions for celebrating a holiday was about simplicity and goodwill. Our whole country needs large doses of goodwill right now. Let’s all make this the most joyous Season of Holidays ever.

Judy

A Time to Tweak

June 29th, 2011 by judytalks

Awhile ago I wrote about developing a marketing plan for my latest book. (see The Year of Magical Planning). For the most part, that plan has given me opportunities for reaching the grieving community with comfort and support. Recently, though, I’ve tweaked it to give myself larger chunks of time for covering the ongoing aspects of bereavement. Mourning doesn’t start and stop at fixed points. The papers I’m writing are posted on www.scribd.com under judywriting and will be continued in a series. These papers help you to manage the difficulties of grief, while taking care of your inner self. Many thanks to you who have already checked them out.

Taking joy in your work has to allow times for tweaking. A fresh approach, a new idea, or a newly discovered avenue for reaching your audience renews your spirit and keeps you on your toes.

Please visit my website, www. survive-strong.com for resources that offer you comfort and hope. I wish you well.

Judy

Making the Hard Choices

May 23rd, 2011 by judytalks

Changes in life can be by choice or by accident. The accidental ones are the hardest because there is no time for prior thought or preparation. Having to shift gears suddenly catches you unawares, and leaves you without some of the basic necessities in your life – no job, no house, no finances, and shifting gears is the last thing you want to do.

The feeling of desperation that accompanies loss makes it difficult to even think straight. The good news is that loss really is a new beginning.

In the past few years, I’ve seen friends and family members start over with amazing results. Dreaming new dreams, realizing creative efforts and nurturing those dreams has brought about a new lease on life, sometimes replacing what was lost with something so much better.

Yes, it’s hard to see opportunity when you are devastated, fearful, and emotionally drained. The first hurdle is accepting that you are your own best support system. A new business or career usually means you have to change your life stlye, often for a long time, maybe permanently. But seeing dreams materialize more than compensates.

As I said in my last post, loss has become a household word. It’s time we took the bull by the horns and made gain our word of choice. No more tears, no more defeat.

My best,
Judy

Comfort When You Need It Most

May 10th, 2011 by judytalks

Mother’s Day was last Sunday, a holiday I used to share with the opening day of fishing when I lived in Minnesota. My late husband was an avid fisherman and, as we had a cabin on a lake, itched to start fishing every year. Whoever declared Opening Day of Fishing to fall on the same day as Mother’s Day is beyond me, but I usually told him to “just go, have fun, and bring home dinner.”

He’s been gone for twenty years, but I still have a hard time thinking of how to celebrate being a mother on the first Saturday in May, so this year we spent the day putting on our solar screens. I live in Arizona now and it seemed like the right time.

Sometimes things just present themselves at an opportune time and it seems wise to go along with it. My last post mentioned my endeavor to maintain balance in my work and my life. It’s slowly taking shape and I’m relaxing with a more focused view and more realistic approach to what is truly meaningful and how to best help others with their grief and loss needs.

I discovered a good website for posting short papers (and other writings) and have begun a series of papers that address the troublesome aspects of loss and healing. If you are in need today, or know someone who is, please check out my first paper on www.scribd.com and look for The Deep Impact of Loss. It’s a simple, clear guide, written from experience.

I wish you well.

Judy

The Year of Magical Planning

March 12th, 2011 by judytalks

A Child’s Grief was published in January, 2010. Even before the manuscript was edited, I began putting together a marketing plan that would inform and encourage grievers and those who help them to become educated about death, grief and loss.

To date, I have reached many, many people. Groups, organizations, in-person discussions, and online social networking has spread the notion that death education doesn’t have to come after the fact in our society. We can learn how to help ourselves and others.

I am gratified to see more openness on this subject, more willingness to talk and listen, more groups and centers that address all the aspects of recovery and healing.

My recent 1st place book award from Reader Views 2010 Book Award contest has given me pleasure and encouragement that I am living my passion. Keeping you informed about bereavement is my heart’s desire, motivated first because I am a survivor, then, as an educator and writer. My most recent endeavor, to become a grief facilitator for grieving children and families strengthens my resolve to forge ahead.

Please avail yourself of the resources on these personal and important subjects on my website, www.survive-strong.com. When trauma strikes, the more you know before hand, the better you will emerge from the awfulness that is mourning. I wish you well.

Judy

Tragedy and Staying Strong

January 10th, 2011 by judytalks

I last wrote about the violent assassination attempt on a Congresswoman in Tucson, AZ. Though I knew none of the persons who were struck, wounded, or killed, I was deeply affected. The element of feeling secure when out and about – at a supermarket, no less- is shattered in light of this incident. But the larger fact to consider are the extreme emotions felt by individuals who commit these crimes.

To share the genuine grief of those personally involved is simpler than to actually mourn for a loved one.

Those who help grieving people encourage openness and regular expression of their emotions, as a means of receiving comfort and healing. It takes strength to do this. Standing tall, acknowledging their deep pain, and mourning openly will yield healing, and give confidence for moving forward. But is takes time.

I wish us well, those of us who have witnessed tragedy. I especially send love and prayers to those who have experienced personally the loss of a life too dear to them.

Judy

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