*Make a will. And update your beneficiaries. And make sure that both of your names are on anything that you would still want to use tomorrow. Anything uncovered by wills, beneficiaries, or joint account names will be frozen at least as long as it takes to receive a death certificate (which can take weeks) and even longer if probate court is required.
If you have children, have remarried, or are single, MAKE A WILL. You are saving your surviving family a lot of unnecessary stress and trouble. If you are married for the first time without children, it can actually be easier to simply make sure your spouse is your beneficiary on all accounts and is a joint account holder/owner on everything else and bypass the will. Wills have to go through the entire executor and/or probate process, freezing all assets in the process.
You know that separate checking or savings account you have because you didn’t want to join up your money when you got married? Your spouse is going to have a hell of time dealing with those unless you have a POD (payable on death) clause set up.
Losing a spouse is stressful enough. Have your money and properties in order. Texas is a handwritten-will state, meaning you could even handwrite something as simple as “I _______ leave all of assets and property to ________ upon my death,” sign it, and have a witness, which would make life all the more simple for someone else later.
*Have a list of your accounts… somewhere. Having a list of how to access those accounts would be even better – think user names and passwords. Organize all your account information into logical places that other people know about it. This includes car titles…
*Dogs know. I have been amazed this year how much my doglets have obviously felt with me. Lucy went into a deep period of mourning that lasted about 3 months when Roger died, and some of the changes she went through were permanent. She is a changed being, dog or not, from the loss of a loved one, and I have found an interesting level of empathy from watching her mourn. Scarlet became almost mothering during that same period and is still very sensitive to the moments when I really miss Roger. Both of them actively waited and looked for him, at times to the point of being a bit unnerving, but it has been made obvious to me that dogs, and perhaps pets in general, know and understand far more that we give them credit, and that is comforting.
*Don’t buy the cheap lawn mower because your husband knows how to start it. I rue the day I insisted upon the $120 lawn mower instead of the one with the automatic start. That extra money spent would have made my life now a lot easier and would have made lawn work more enjoyable for Roger that whole time before. Obviously, this could be applied to almost anything.
*Even suspicions of depression are serious. I’m not even going to try to write something poignant or informative here. If you are ever concerned, take them to the damn doctor, and do it THEN. Fight about it if you have to. You can always apologize for being overbearing later.
*Say I love you more. I love watching How I Met Your Mother. Over the Christmas break, I’ve being OD-ing on the show. One evening I watched both the episode in which Marshall’s father dies suddenly and then the following episode that deals primarily with his father’s last words to him. Both shows were incredibly difficult for me but specifically the one about last words. Humorously, his dad’s last words were to rent Crocodile Dundee 3 instead of something loving and fatherly. This really upset him, and understandingly so. How many times have any of us left a person important to us in a way that looking back would be disappointing, whether they know we care for them or not. None of us would want “don’t forget the milk” to be the last thing someone hears from us, or “we’ll talk about this when I get home” to be the final thought. My last words to Roger were, “Go back to what you were doing. I’ll be home in about 15 minutes,” and despite the fact that we said it often and meant it always, an “I love you” would have been a really easy 3 words to add on.
*Susan Bates crochet hooks are better. That’s it.
*No one knows how you feel or how you should feel, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
*It’s always the little things. We make such a big deal out of the big things. We over-plan holidays, spend way too much money on gifts and parties, stress over weddings, choreograph the perfect picture, and freak out when things don’t go according to plan. But when we look back it’s the little things that make an impact. I have fond memories of our wedding, our family holidays, the vacations we took, the first night we spent in our first house, the beautiful planned photos in our house, but those are not what I miss about Roger. The things that still tug at my heart are mostly that which seemed insignificant: the little air kisses he’d give me across the room, our inside jokes, constantly finding more cookies in the shopping cart, talking smack while we watched tv, watching him mow, the way his foot felt against mine at night, cutting his hair before drill weekends… When my grandmother died, my mom asked me if there was anything I wanted. There were only 2 things that I even remotely associated with her that had meaning for me: porcelain gnomes that she fired and painted that I remember looking at as we swam in her backyard and a really gaudy ring she always wore that had moving parts that I remember spinning on her finger as I sat in her lap. It’s the little things.
*Everything is temporary except the end. Which is simply my way of saying don’t procrastinate, don’t put off, live life to the fullest, carpe diem… Time truly is fleeting.
*Losing someone won’t kill you. Even if it feels like it might.
*More shockingly, you can be happy even after you lose someone, and that’s okay. Survivors’ guilt can be really rotten, and no one deserves that in addition to everything else.