Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tip #7 for Navigating the Rough Seas of Widowhood

You don't have to do everything at once.  Yes, there are some essentials:  probate, death certificate, social security, life insurance (and please don't forget to change your beneficiary).  But there are lots of things you can do a little at a time.  I couldn't bring myself to open a mass of sympathy cards at once so I opened a couple each day.  You don't have to write all the thank-you notes at once either.  Again, I did a few at a time.  But please do them eventually.  When someone has been kind and sympathetic during your tough times, they deserve a thank-you.  A friend recently remarked that no one sends thank you's any more, but I do...and not by email; I actually send a real honest-to-goodness note.

You don't have to get rid of all your spouse's clothes at once.  Packing up things s/he used to wear can be painful.  I waited two years...maybe a bit overlong, but you have to do these things when you feel able to tackle them. In The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion admits she could not bring herself to get rid of her husband's shoes; she imagined if she kept them, he'd come back.   I kept a few of my favorite things of his, but now that I'm downsizing, I have to let them go, so I took pictures.  The one thing I've saved was his shabby brown bathrobe.  On cold nights I wrap myself in it and imagine that even after nine years it still carries his scent.

 I'm not going to admit how long it took me to change the utilities to my name, but it was pretty darn long.  I've finally changed them all...except for TV/internet/phone/fax.  Comcast would not allow me to change them by phone and their nearest branch office is a good hour drive, so all those are still in my husband's name.

One of the first things I bought after my husband's death was a shredder; still,  I spent a year going through my husband's extensive files. 

And please don't pick up and sell your home and move to another town or even a smaller place until you've settled down enough to tackle a move sensibly.

Take care, and come back next week for Tip #8.



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