words by: Ferree Hardy
The beginning of a new year is a great time to review your life and make changes and necessary updates. Will you join me and my husband, Tom, in our New Year’s resolution? We both want to be better prepared for widowhood than we were the first time. Even though it might not happen for another twenty years or more, we realize that it could happen today. In either case, we want to make our passing away a little less stressful for our family.
Tom and I are among the statistics: 3 out of 4 women will experience widowhood at least once during their lifetime; 1 in 4 men will be widowers. We’ve both experienced widowhood once, and one of us will experience it again. The one statistic that’s totally reliable is that 1 out of every 1 person will die. This year, as we prepare for that reality, perhaps some of our findings will help you prepare too.
This article will present three important areas: Relationships, Responsibilities, and Riches. Then I’ll summarize with some final points of Reality. Thinking ahead about these things will help you get your money’s worth when you consult with a lawyer, accountant, funeral home director, or financial advisor in the weeks to come. Interview two or more of these people and find someone you’re confident in. The decisions you’ll make with them can set the trajectory for your money to grow and be safeguarded—or not. The difference could cost hundreds and even thousands of your hard-earned dollars, so choose wisely.
Family, friends, and your relationship with God, not material things, are your most treasured valuables. Live at peace with God and people. Mend the terms with siblings or parents that have separated you. Sit down with your spouse for a good talk about the future; discuss what to do if God calls one of you home this year.
When some people marry, they like to isolate themselves in their own little “love nest.” But such privacy creates further tragedy. It leaves the widowed spouse to navigate the lonely land of widowhood without the confidence or outside friendships he or she needs. Both husband and wife should have some solid, same-sex friends of their own in addition to the friendships they share as a couple.
There are other much-needed relationships too. Write out a list with the names, addresses, and phone numbers for doctors, dentists, veterinarians, banks, lawyers, etc., so that both spouses will easily know where to go for helpful services.
Take responsibility for your future. How will you survive the loss of your spouse? Begin to find out what you need to know and what you need to do. For example, if you are the wife, will you need to find a job to replace your husband’s income? Begin to develop the business or artisan skills you need now. Are you familiar with the bill paying and the household budget so that you can take it over? Too many bank tellers have sad stories of widow ladies who come to them in tears because they don’t know how to write checks or balance their accounts. If you are the husband, can you cook yourself a meal, wash the clothes, stay in tune with the needs of the children, and get everyone going in the morning?
A very important responsibility is that the married couple comes to an agreement on how to handle their current finances together. Each should know how much money gets paid out every month, if there is any debt, and how much needs to be saved.
Make regular “deposits” into your memory “bank.” Memorize Scriptures, songs, and hymns, and build positive habits like exercise and healthy nutrition. Strengthen your mind and body for the years ahead instead of neglecting them. Both mind and body will be cherished assets…
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Ferree Hardy has helped thousands of widows through her book, “Postcards from the Widows’ Path,” small groups, speaking, and personal coaching, but touching one life at a time is what matters most to her. She holds a BA from Moody Bible Institute, and was a pastor’s wife in Ohio for over twenty years before her first husband died. She’s happily remarried now, and her readers know that moving seems to have become a hobby for her. But she also enjoys backyard chickens, aims to read fifty books a year, and loves to bake. Learn more by visiting her blog.