Monday, March 25, 2013

Wife To Widow: Sandra Bennett

I  feel like I'm being redundant in my introductions with you ladies, but each one of you has had something very special to share here with us.  Each one amazing, unique, and gifted.  Each one brave enough to share her story in the hopes it will fall on needing ears.   So when I repeatedly say I can't wait for you to meet... I'm so excited to share... This woman is truly amazing...I feel honored... I know you'll be inspired by... It is all very sincere. 

I know you will find our next "feature" courageous and inspiring.   She really makes you think.  Visit her blog.  She may not see it this way, but I see a ministry going on over at Thistle Cove.  We are all called.  Thank you Sandra for your inspiration.

Sandra didn't write this, but I want to add that she is working on a e-book she hopes to 
publish late spring/early summer.  It will be a workbook to help prepare for the death of a spouse.  I also want to add her blogs here as well.

She has two blogs her farm blog (updated fairly regularly) and her wife to widow blog (sporadic updates because she is working on the book).

~Kasse D.

 "These are questions I ask myself every day. I've a good idea of what God wants me to be doing now but haven't a clue about the future. I know my past has brought me to this place, this time, this farm and God uses it all to prepare me for doing the job He has set before me." Sandra

 We were going to sit down on Monday morning, cups of coffee at hand, three ring notebook at the ready and Dave was going to prepare me for that time when he wouldn't be here to protect me and provide for me. Saturday morning, around 10:30, he dropped dead of a massive heart attack. Even though he'd been fighting cancer for more than a year, we'd been given the hope of “another year, p'raps a year and half”.

I've learned a LOT, most importantly, happiness has a million voices while grief has one voice, one cry. After a death, people disappear and some of those who don't disappear, you wish they would. Everyone has to grieve in their own way, in their own time. Grief cannot be hurried; it takes as long as it takes. Crying is cathartic, so is screaming. You, the one left behind, has to do what is best for you and not, necessarily, what someone else thinks is best for you. The old adage, “don't make any drastic changes for a year” is good advice...except when it isn't.
Dave died in 11/11 and since then I've been working on a book to help others prepare as best one can. The book isn't a one size fits all, it's more of a workbook, with work sheets, to help put affairs in order now so you don't play catch up later. There are myriad decisions that can be made now to save so much money and heart ache later. My suggestions and advice are just that...suggestions and advice but for advice and counsel particular to your situation, please consult a professional in the area in which you need help.
I am not a lawyer, therapist, counselor, financial adviser or any other type professional. I'm simply a woman who was left before we could prepare and everything I've learned has been on the job training (OJT) and, mainly, BTSOMP (by the seat of my pants). If I'd been better prepared, I could have saved money and time and could have focused on the real work of grieving. This article is a sample of what you need to know, what you need to do and is by no means complete.
First piece of best advice...get out of debt as much as possible and as soon as possible. Determine what you need to live and let go of your wants; when you aren't enslaved by debt, you have a lot more choices in life. When you're enslaved by debt, your choices are fewer and you're slave to many masters. Sit down, the two of you together and establish a budget for your household. Frankly, this is something I'm still working on finishing; it's a task that takes a lot of time and effort but, you'll hear me say this again and again, doing it now will prevent headache and heartache later. If you're doing volunteer work, stop. From now until you get it finished, this is your “volunteer” work; you need to take care of home and family and when finished, you'll be in a better place to do volunteer work for others. In fact, stop anything that takes away from God first, family second, work third. When you're taking care of you, your family and your God ordained obligations, time has a way of expanding to fit the tasks at hand. My life now revolves around devotions, my farm, home, animals and myself. I'm helping with our small community association (our valley has fewer than three dozen people) and our volunteer fire department because it takes most of us to keep our community in working order.
One of the many things I found out was both names should be on the utility bills. It makes an onerous task less difficult because the utility company will say, “We're sorry for your loss but your name isn't on the bill so we can't talk to you.” When I'd reply, yes, my name is on the bill and if you don't want to talk to me, let me give you my husband's new address: it's Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.” My sense of humor was lost upon corporate employees and even so, I had to send certified copies of death certificates for them to talk to me. As to having Dave's name taken off the accounts? That hasn't happened yet and, frankly, I've given up. If they want to give me a hard time when I move, I'll deal with it then or contact the State Corporation Commission and turn the big dogs loose. Lesson learned: decide which battles are the most important and this one wasn't. The electric bill still arrives, I still pay it and, thus far, all is well.
The phone company was a major pain, especially the mobile phone company which was also our land line company. Long story short, I canceled the mobile phone and went with Straight Talk from Walmart; it was less expensive both to purchase a phone (minutes, text and web) and to buy a plan ($30/month). Where I live there's no cell service so a “smart phone” does me absolutely no good.
Vehicle titles should read “Joe Jones or Jane Jones, Right of Survivor (ROS). It's less paperwork and less expensive to have the titles transferred into your name should your spouse pre-decease you.
When Dave died, my immediate problem was cash flow and I found out our bank accounts needed to say, “Joe Jones with Jane Jones, beneficiary” in order for me to access his checking account or vice versa. Yes, I had my checking account but for months couldn't access his money; meanwhile, creditors wouldn't wait.
If one dies without a will, called intestate, the State will assign an Executor or Executrix to administer the will. Said Executor or Executrix may, legally, receive 15% of the estate for such administration whereas a relative or friend may, voluntarily, forgo such a claim. There are myriad reasons a person doesn't have a will; some say it's too morbid, they lack the knowledge or they don't have the money to pay a lawyer, yet, in twenty-nine states, a holographic will is legal. A holographic will is a handwritten will that's witnessed and, usually, notarized by two people unrelated to the person making the will. Other options include form wills specific to your state such as Legal Zoom or US Legal Forms offer and both are found on the internet. If you have a will, you should consider a Living Trust next and your Last Will and Testament is written so your estate "pours over" into your Trust upon your death. It's an excellent way to keep your affairs private!
A short article is the tip of the iceberg but gives you some ideas of how to manage your affairs so you're proactive and not reactive. “Death comes to us or for us, it's best to be prepared.”

1 comment:

  1. Sandra is a very strong inspiration and she is very special to do this book for others. Sometimes writing things down helps in times of grief and pain help survive the day.

    What important words she has to share and so gracefully written. Thanks for sharing
    her story!
    Blessings, Cyndi