I’m sorry if I have not responded to all of your e-mails or comments. It has been overwhelming at times. Frequently, I don’t know what to say back. I’m miserable. I’m grieving. You don’t want to hear that. It should be rather obvious. I have been beautifully touched by the eloquence of some who have offered consolation. I can tell that others do not know what to say because they are uncomfortable about the whole subject matter. (That’s okay. Eloquence routinely escapes me too.) I am very thankful for every single card, e-mail, comment, or phone call that I received. And it gives me joy to know that many of you are praying for me on a regular basis.
I’ve had some folks tell me that I will get over it. Sigh. I respond to such folly with silence because I am polite. I’m sure that they mean well. But they have no clue what they are talking about and the reassurances are empty. I will never, ever “get over” the countless horrors that I experienced during Jim’s long illness with pancreatic cancer, nor will I “get over” his death. He suffered. I suffered. Now I face the rest of my life alone. If I die tomorrow, I will die alone. And, it may take a while before somebody notices. I’m confident that the mail lady will suspect that something is amiss before anybody else.
Get over it? Please don’t say ever something like that to a widow or widower. Please. Okay, I’m off my soapbox now…
There are times when I can push my grief aside long enough to function like a normal human being. There are other times that I cannot. As time goes on, I hope that I can push it aside for longer periods of time. My sorrow over losing Jim is an integral part of me. It defines me as other life experiences have defined my character and values. I deny myself if I deny my grief.
During my grieving process, I have been diligently tending to the business of death. There is much that has to be accomplished, and my heartaches have to be wrapped up and tucked into a corner while completing these tasks. No one volunteered to assist me, so I set about doing the busywork alone. Sometimes I am able to remain stoic. Sometimes I weep. Whatever. It has to get done, and I am the one that has to do it.
The death certificates were finally ready about a week and a half ago, and I picked those up at the cemetery. I visited Jim’s gravesite and wept buckets, howling to an empty sky. The headstone is not available yet, so I will have more opportunities to cry my heart out later on too.
I completed all of the paperwork associated with the survivor retirement benefits and turned those in person with Jim’s former employer. The initial monthly deposits have already been received. I visited the Social Security office (egads, what an awful sea of humanity there) and completed that notification. Repayment of January’s benefits has been a bit of a mess, thanks to the government bureaucracy. I think it is finally resolved. I do not quality for any Social Security survivor benefits because I already receive a government pension. Gee thanks, Federal government.
I had to present death certificates along my various business rounds. The insurance agency needed a personal visit, along with all of the utility companies. I had to start completely over from scratch with Comcast for my TV and internet service (and saved some money in the process). I was able to contact some household service companies by phone to complete the transition of future bill statements in my name. And a few of these companies even took the time to send me sympathy cards. (I will certainly continue to do business with those!)
The credit card notifications went smoothly, thanks to zero balances on all of Jim’s accounts. (I made sure everything was paid while he was struggling mightily at the end.) One was persnickety and required a written notification with a death certificate. The other two companies said that a verbal notification was sufficient.
I have the wheels turning with the financial company that manages Jim’s 401(k) for converting the proceeds into a traditional IRA account for me. And I’ve already discussed moving the account over to the financial company where I keep my personal investment and retirement accounts. Hopefully, it will all transition smoothly and be completed this month.
I still need to close out a couple of joint checking accounts, but I am waiting for a few things to clear. I’ve been in contact with credit union staff on several issues, and they have been very responsive and helpful. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I can get the financial accounts consolidated this coming week.
I met with an estate attorney (who is also a CPA) last week, and he happily told me that I made his job as easy as it can possibly be. Probate is not required, thanks to my strict financial management. Ah, but I still have to do a thorough estimation of Jim’s estate so that the attorney can file an inheritance tax return. Even though I won’t owe any estate taxes, the government requires a full accounting! I’ve already started a spreadsheet and begun a compilation. The deadline is nine months from the date of death, but why would anyone want this task to drag on? I intend to complete it immediately.
The attorney also told me that I may go ahead with my usual preparation of an electronic Federal tax return for 2014. So I have that work underway as well. I can claim married status for 2014, but must claim single beginning in 2015. I will have to estimate my 2015 tax burden and adjust withholding rates accordingly. According to the tax tables, the Feds will be extracting significantly more money from my wallet as a single taxpayer.
Is your head spinning from all of the details that pertain to the business of death? It is daunting exercise, so one needs to be prepared as much as possible. If you haven’t given it much thought, please start. I knew that Jim was dying, so I prepared and planned ahead. It wasn’t a pleasant thing to do, but it is making things easier for me now. I wish that Jim had participated in the preparation too, but he didn’t want to admit that he was dying. So I had to take care of it by myself, as I am taking care of it now.