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Seeking advice from other widows UPDATE Post 42

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  • Seeking advice from other widows UPDATE Post 42

    Hi, I am in mid-50s and my husband died suddenly in June. I now know what heartbreak really means. He was everything to me, best friend, only family, co-worker.
    I was enduring an unpleasant, poorly paid job with no benefits because we were making a big life change next year (plans of selling house, moving, starting second careers). I have sole responsibility now for a big house in mid-renovation (torn up bathroom and master bedroom) and a big yard that takes two solid days each week for me to mow. No close friends here. I dislike the area - very conservative Southern city, awful traffic, expensive.
    I am thinking about a total new start somewhere. All that seems to surround me here are painful memories and reminders that he is gone.
    One fact: I don't have any family here or any family to move closer to, in case someone was suggesting that.
    UPDATE: I am seeing a therapist. Finances are very tight, I was left without any health insurance by his death and there was no life insurance payout.
    Have any of you (or family and friends) been there? What did you do? How did decisions to stay or go turn out?
    Last edited by FatDinah; Oct. 1, 2013, 11:47 AM.

  • #2
    No advice but {{{{HUGS}}}}
    I am sorry for your loss
    I wasn't always a Smurf
    Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
    "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
    The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.


    • #3
      Hugs to you. I think a trip to a professional counselor would be a benefit in your situation. It would help you sort through your feelings so you can move forward doing what's right for you. You are the only one that can determine what your future goals are.


      • #4
        Dear FatDinah,

        I have no personal experience with what you have gone through, so I'm really not in a position to offer advice. What I am hearing in your post is that there is nothing good holding you here -- no support system, not even a house or job you enjoy. Are you in a financial position to finish up the renos as soon as possible and put the house on the market? Do you have lots of animals to take into consideration if you pull up stakes and move elsewhere? Perhaps you could think about renting in a new location for a while to see if it is a good fit.

        You were gearing up to make a big life change before life changed underneath you in such a terrible way. Maybe you can think of a fresh start as a way of keeping alive the dream the two of you started.

        Whatever you decide to do, please know that we are thinking of you and wishing you courage and strength.
        I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.


        • #5
          I was 48 when my husband died. The best advice I got was to NOT make any big changes for a year if I could help it. In retrospect I clearly see that I was pretty numb for that year, and used that time to just sort through things and get my bearings. I was in an area where I had friends and my children were in their teens, so that affected my decisions, too. I stayed where I was for six years, then moved on.

          If I'd felt no ties where I was I would have definitely moved sooner, and when I did move it was to horse property to bring my three horses home after decades of boarding. I do know that no matter where you go that grief goes with you. There will always be reminders that he's gone.

          Good luck to you. The first year was the hardest for me. I worried all the time that I was doing the right thing. It's been thirteen years and I no longer wonder if my husband would make the same choices I've made.


          • #6
            I'm so sorry, been there, still there, got the t-shirt. Unless absolutely necessary, it's recommended you make no major life changes for the first year, and I stick to no changes in the winter when I'm sunk in depression anyway. If finances are "tight but doable" I'd stick it out for a bit and try to get the renovations finished, if possible. It's amazing how much of that you can do by yourself, with self help books, when necessity demands it. That would give you time to breathe a little and maybe decide where you'd like to go. Moving doesn't eliminate the painful memories and reminders. They move right along with you. Tried that, I rented the house to my daughter, but have moved home again. I'm extremely sorry he didn't have life insurance. It makes such a huge difference in not having to make hasty decisions. Some of those very conservative southern folk will be more than happy to give a hand at whatever you need, if given the chance. Since I broke my leg they've fixed my fence, my lawnmower, driven me to the doctor, brought me food and checked on me. These weren't really good friends, but casual neighbors. Give them a chance. If you need to get out from under house in a hurry, you can try listing it at a price that gives a "cash back" that would cover the cost of the remodel. Counseling is good. Your local church will often give assistance when needed. Other avenues are available for help. Good luck and God bless.
            In an age when scientists are creating artificial intelligence, too many of our educational institutions seem to be creating artificial stupidity.—Thomas Sowell, Is Thinking Obsolete?


            • #7
              OP, first thing you do, check in the the Health Exchanges as soon as they open up. You may very well be entitled to a large voucher towards insurance. Even the lowest priced bronze plan is better than nothing.

              Where are you? It's possible some kind COTHERs might be willing to help you fix the place up.


              • #8
                I had heard about a widow network, and know that sometimes widows are willing to share their homes with other widows to save money and to have a friend. That might be an option. i would say put the house on the market.


                • #9
                  pm me where you are and maybe I can help
                  "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by fargaloo View Post
                    Dear FatDinah,

                    I have no personal experience with what you have gone through, so I'm really not in a position to offer advice. What I am hearing in your post is that there is nothing good holding you here -- no support system, not even a house or job you enjoy. Are you in a financial position to finish up the renos as soon as possible and put the house on the market? Do you have lots of animals to take into consideration if you pull up stakes and move elsewhere? Perhaps you could think about renting in a new location for a while to see if it is a good fit.

                    You were gearing up to make a big life change before life changed underneath you in such a terrible way. Maybe you can think of a fresh start as a way of keeping alive the dream the two of you started.

                    Whatever you decide to do, please know that we are thinking of you and wishing you courage and strength.
                    Agreed, best of luck and so sorry for your loss. We are keeping you in our thoughts and hope for good updates your way.
                    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                    • #11
                      My condolences on your loss.

                      I second the health exchanges, if your state has one. Otherwise, check the prices on all HMO's, and individual policies available to you in your area. A friend paid for her college age daughter's insurance through Blue Cross for years, and then found out that Kaiser was much cheaper in that area, and for better coverage. Shopping around is a great idea.

                      Ask people (I don't mean friends, even just neighbors or acquaintances) about handymen that could finish the bathroom and bedroom as quickly and cheaply as possible. If you need to buy flooring or fixtures there are install specials at Lowes and Home Depot, bathroom and light fixtures usually have a nice, but affordable clearance items, and lights or other fixtures get reduced to clear out back inventory too. Where I used to live a local high school tech center had students work under supervision, and the homeowner furnished materials, but the students did the work to build entire houses, so there might be a technical training center near you that is looking for projects to do. Finish the rooms to appeal to the most buyers possible, and that means neutral paint and finishes, and nothing trendy, or hard to paint over.

                      Is there anywhere you always wanted to live? I know I suggest this a lot, but many trailer parks have trailers they own, and rent for a decent price. Some allow animals, and others don't so look online when you decide where to move to. If you do move, or even if you don't, many cities have newcomer's clubs. They aren't singles groups or dating oriented, but just for people to find others that have the same hobby, or just want to go out and do activities in a group like bowling, or eating out once a month, or go for a hike, to find a group to do this with. I know people that joined clubs when they moved to an area, and still belong because they enjoy getting out of the house, and having some innocent fun. If you really want to move, then start researching places you think you might want to go to. Do you have any special skills? A friend who was a professional photographer went on vacation to Vegas, and asked about jobs when he retired and moved there in a few years-he was offered a full time job on the spot, so some skills in tourist areas are very popular with employers, and the job pool of reliable people isn't that big. If you truly want to move, then decide on a few places you might like to live, then do research on job prospects, cost of living, and look at the city-data forums about the towns-they can tell you a lot about living there. Spend the next few months doing spruce ups around the house, like painting any room that needs it, in a nice neutral, flat paint. Then if you definitely want to sell, then interview three or more realtors to find out their success rate, what they would price your place at, and find out their marketing plan. They need to put a bunch of great pictures on realtor.com, and not just their own website. Decide the rock bottom price you can accept with the deductions for your closing costs and commissions (seller pays all of the commissions), and remember that many times in a buyer's market that the buyer expects the seller to pay all of their closing costs too. Clear out the clutter, and anything you don't want to pay to move, because that makes the house easier to work in, easier to sell, and cuts down on moving costs. Any furniture you don't want or need, then sell it or donate for the deduction. Clean out anything you don't like, don't want, or don't use. There is no point keeping stuff that just takes up space. The traditional selling market is late spring to summer, but places do sell all year round.

                      Because it seems that you have a substantially large property, then don't limit yourself to a buying pool for just homeowners, or someone who wants to continue with the use you have for your property. I don't know what types of animals or other uses are, but don't think the next owners will do what you have with the land. If you get the right price, then it doesn't matter if you have a small farm and the future owners want to build a greenhouse, or want to turn the barn into a garage or subdivide, as long as it's a legal sale for the zoning. You need to decide on the lowest price you can live with, and price according to the local market.

                      I think you first need to decide exactly what you want to do, and then start planning to see if that's realistic for you. I hope you can find the right place and situation for you.
                      You can't fix stupid-Ron White


                      • #12
                        My condolences. I am a widow also- 4 years out. I have never felt such loneliness and isolation as I have as a widow.

                        The year thing is a general recommendation, but I get the feeling that the house and yard work is a huge burden, so that is a little different scenario. One of my husband's aunts moved to a senior community a few months after because the property maintenance was just too much.

                        I can say, I wouldn't have made it without my horses... that saying about "my therapists live in a barn," is certainly true for me.

                        Find a way to vent... have one good friend that you can share anything with... mine happens to be 1000 miles away and we last saw each other at my wedding, but she's been wonderful! I know of a few internet boards (ywbb.org is where I posted) /fb groups. Feel free to shoot me a PM. Grief it different for everybody... complete roller coaster. Saddleup, I'm hoping that at 13 years I'm able to not wonder if I'm making decisions that we would have made as a team... I can tell you that with my son in K it is SO hard... I still want that team... that WE not me. I also find that some things that didn't bother me before now do... I didn't used to worry that much about the weather... now I feel the weight of the responsibility of our son, the horses, cats, dog, house, and property!!! It's a lot to worry about. There are also the things that you let go.... kiddo is happy, healthy, and getting the care he needs... the animals are all happy... weeds taller than some of the ponies and the house is a mess... but what is more important?

                        For me, in the first year I was just so numb. Second year was harder, it was almost like I never had a husband... everybody else moves on.
                        http://leakycreek.wordpress.com/ Rainbows & Mourning Doves Blog
                        John P. Smith II 1973-2009 Love Always
                        Father, Husband, Friend, Firefighter- Cancer Sucks- Cure Melanoma


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks for all the advice and good wishes, especially from others who have lost a husband/SO that was so central to one's life.
                          Hiring anyone to do work is just not possible. The water heater went out and I just have to endure no hot water,
                          His death was self-inflicted at home so I think tht makes it harder to think about staying. Every time I come home, I relive that awful moment. I also feel like I was never married, people at work or casal friends have erased him.
                          It's true that grief will go with me. I am weighing whether it'd be better to rebuild a life where theres no reminders and no one knows about the tragedy or better to try and do it here.


                          • #14
                            My heart goes out to all of you widows. OP, I am so, so sorry. Having a family member who died by suicide I know what you mean about people around you erasing them -- it's like the world goes deaf or something; like this whole person, this whole life never existed. It's so horrible; I know people don't mean to be cruel but it is so, so hurtful and disorienting. My heart breaks for you.

                            People who have been through this are counselling you to wait at least a year, and their experience means a lot -- but it tears me up to think of you having to walk into that house at the end of the day and relive it all. Can you talk to a realtor -- what would you get for the house if you put it up right now, renos in progress? It sounds as if you are sitting on a lot of property -- could you get anything for it? Even if it's enough to get a few month's rent together to get out of there and regroup. Stay in therapy, get into a support group for widows/survivors of suicide, but I think you need to get out of there.

                            I don't know what is right for you but you are very much in my thoughts tonight.
                            I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.


                            • #15
                              You've got some good advice here already.
                              Like a Widow BB I go to says "Welcome to the club nobody wants to join"
                              So sorry you had to become another member.

                              Just wanted to add I am 11+ years into my widowhood and it does get a little easier as you go. Never completely gone, but the pain finds a place you can put it away & get on with Life.
                              Grief is very personal, so don't let anybody tell you how you "should" feel or when you should feel it - even therapists or support groups. Or me.

                              I am also pretty much alone.
                              My only family is a brother 2Kmi away.
                              I chose to move to a farmette nearly 10yrs ago and most of my close friends are still behind in the city I left - about an hour's drive.
                              I did make some acquaintances here, but nothing that has lasted.
                              But the chance to have my horses home with me makes it worth everything I gave up.
                              And this small town is less expensive than where I was living - my RE taxes alone are less than 1/2 of what I was paying - even with 3 exemptions!

                              Like others say: don't make any huge changes right now.
                              Give yourself time to adjust to your new Life.
                              Move if you have to, but on your terms.
                              And PM me if you want to.
                              *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                              Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                              Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                              Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                              • #16
                                Only you know how you grieve.

                                If you have to stay for a while to be practical see if you can get a roommate to help with expenses. Maybe even someone handy to help you. Start painting and finishing up what you can personally do in regard to the renovations. It will keep you occupied and you may be surprised at how much you can do yourself. Get the place as ready to sell as you can so that when the time is right you can get as much as possible. As you were planning a big change keep preparing. I sure if your husband was all you say he was to you, he would want you to go on and be happy even if he couldn't be.

                                My prayers are with you.
                                Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"


                                • #17
                                  FD, I am so very sorry for where you are right now.

                                  You have received some good advice here. Mine would be to do what feels right for you, which might not be what convention says. I was widowed in 2000, I am now remarried. My grief journey was certainly not "by the book" and definitely caused concern among some people. But it was mine and here I am today.

                                  I can absolutely understand your reluctance to stay where you are. You need to do what feels the best for you. I agree with MK, find a group online who "gets it" (mine was Widownet) as that is so important. And if someone offers to help, take them up on it. If I'm close, please let me know. Sending hugs to you.
                                  We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.


                                  • #18
                                    Please continue to see your therapist. You may develop PTSD from this tragedy. I am so sorry for your loss. If you are feeling poorly it can be difficult to plan ahead. A practical tip, I used to heat a pan of water on the stove and mix it with cold water in 2 empty milk jugs. Was enough warm water for a quick "shower".
                                    Bless you and know you are not alone.
                                    My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!


                                    • #19
                                      OK, all you Widows, help me out please. Not to take away from this thread at ALL, but I never know the right thing to do when someones spouse passes away, especially suddenly.

                                      Yeah, I know the whole funeral ritual, I'm talking after. Do you want me to mention your loved one, or not? Should I wait for you to mention them? I'm not trying to erase their existance, I'm waiting for cues from you how to handle this. If it is too painful, I don't want to bring it up, but I want you to be able to come to me and talk as much as you like, if it would help. How do I convey that to you without hurting you?

                                      OP hang in there, I think the overwhelming feeling right now will pass, and it will get a little easier to see where you should go into the future. While therapy will help, I sometimes think just a warm hug is equally comforting. So consider yourself Hugged!
                                      Facta non verba


                                      • #20
                                        OP, even if your state refuses to set up a health exchange (which if you are in the south is likely) the feds will be setting up a state exchange anyway. Unfortunately, it may not be as inexpensive as those states that cooperated, but you will still benefit from premium support if your income is low enough. And the income max is pretty high...a lot of people are going to be very surprised they qualify for premium support.

                                        If you're anywhere near me, I'm pretty handy with renovations.