As much as we’d rather not believe it, if a couple remains married, one of them will eventually find themselves
widowed. It is just a simple truth. Yes, there are those occasions when both die at the same die, but that is rare.
It is a devastating time in the life of the one left behind. Everything, and I mean everything, about your life is
changed. Sometimes that happens in a moment and other times it happens over an extended time of illness.
Which is easier? Neither. Both have their pros and cons. I have friends on each side of that coin and from our
conversations, it is never easy.
Since none of us know the day or hour that we will breathe our final breath, it is of upmost importance that we be
as prepared as we can. Now let me say that no matter how prepared you are, it will still be more than you can
imagine. It will be one of the toughest things you will ever have to endure. But if preparations have been made,
it is easier to navigate this new journey.
How can we prepare for death? I am no expert, but rather one that’s experienced widowhood. So I won’t be giving
you legal advice. Instead I will share some practical advice.
One of the simplest things I believe you can do as a couple is for both of you to be totally aware of all money issues.
Sure, one of you can handle the day to day bill paying, etc., but each needs to know what you have and where it is.
Statistics lean toward the husband dying first, and many women end up alone with absolutely no idea if they even
have enough money to survive because their husbands always just took care of that stuff. That can be easily rectified
by openness in this area, thus eliminating at least one worry.
Before Les died, I wasn’t a huge advocate for term life insurance. It seemed like a waste to me. When Les lost his
career job, a ton of life insurance was lost along with the position. Our financial advisor recommended a ten-year
term life insurance policy. I balked. But we bought it and paid for it for 10 years in a row. I never dreamed when
we paid that first premium that Les would die before the 10 year term was up. But he did. In fact, he died about
6 weeks after the 10th premium was paid. That policy has kept me from being financially strapped . I’m not saying
you should run out and purchase a term life insurance policy, but I do think you should consider all options.
If you do make such a purchase, be sure it will allow you to continue after the term is up even if your health declines.
Our policy allowed that, but Les died before we had to use that option. And even though the premium
would have radically increased, had Les lived into the next year, it would have been worth it.
Do you have a will? Why not? Everyone, I mean everyone, needs a will. Without a will, depending on the state in
which you live, your assets may be divided differently than you would prefer. Your spouse could end up with a very
small inheritance and have to struggle to make ends meet. Unless you are very wealthy, wills can be pretty simple
and straightforward. Les and I had a will since l978, but during his sickness we updated it and included other needed
Included in our new wills were a Power of Attorney and a Healthcare Power of Attorney. Should you become unable
to make decisions for yourself, you need someone you trust to step in and make those decisions for you. Think this
out carefully. You are giving that person a lot of power, so trust is a must. I believe you also need to discuss your
desires with your POA so they will make decisions that most fit those you would make. You may not be sick,
so you’re thinking you don’t need those papers, but life is fragile and can be changed in a moment.
Do you want the courts to decide for you or would rather it be someone you love and trust?
When my mom was near death, my dad, sister and I went to the funeral home and made all the arrangements ahead
of time. My dad paid for Mama’s funeral, and his, at that time. A few weeks later when Mama died, we had very little
to take care of . There are so many emotions caused by grief and trying to make decisions about caskets and flowers
and burial plots and vaults are difficult to do. In that emotional state, we end up purchasing things we’d never purchase
in a more steady state of mind. Now I understand everyone can’t write a check for their funeral ahead of time, but
you can make some plans. Tell your spouse what kind of funeral you want. Talk about the music. Graveside only or
church service? Cremation or embalmment? It is important. Les and I didn’t have funeral arrangements made ahead,
but I did take the time while he was sick to make a list of what we’d want for his service. Since Mama had died only
5 months earlier, I knew the things the funeral home would ask and need. I went prepared, so I was able to make
what I believe were wise decisions based on needs and desires, not on the roller coaster of emotions that were
swimming around in my head.
None of us likes to talk about death, but it is a reality. I believe you are showing love to your spouse when you are
willing to discuss these hard issues. Believe me, there are enough things to deal with after the loss of a spouse.
I’m sure there are lots of other practical things we can do to prepare for that time we all will eventually face.
I’d love to hear from you with other ideas. Your comments are always welcomed.
Beyond practical advice, I’d like to share one more thing, and it is spiritual. I have talked with women who
have lost their spouses and they ask me how I have made it through this far. There really is only one answer
to that question, and it is because I have a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus died for our sins, was
buried and on the 3rd day, rose again. Because He lives, I can face whatever tomorrow brings. And because
He lives, I know that even when my body dies, I will still live. And because He lives, I know that one day I
will see Les again. That gives me hope and peace and assurance. You can have that, too, by repenting of your
sins, asking Jesus to forgive you and to come live in your heart, becoming the Lord of your life. That should
be the very first preparation you make!!! The spouse you leave behind will be so much more able to cope
knowing you have gone on to be with Jesus.
Lots of love, Sharon