When is it Right for a Widow to Move?

Should a widow move after the death of a spouse? Consider financial, emotional and social needs of each person before making major life changing decisions.

This question has been burning in my mind since August of 2015 when Mike died. Do I stay in our home, or do I move? The answer is different for all widows and much needs to be considered. Here is what I know.

While widows and widowers all have one thing in common, everyone has a different story and a different situation. The one bit of advice that I found helpful after the sudden tragic loss of my husband was to wait a year before making any major life changes.

FINANCIAL

For most widows, finances will play a pivotal part in any decisions made after the death of a spouse. If a large life insurance policy is available, it may take a few months to have access to the money. Using that money to pay off a home mortgage and other medical or credit card debts will be most helpful.

If the spouse was over 60, social security monthly payments may be available which will help secure money to be paid for monthly bills.

In my situation, we were both only 51 years old, so I was facing a loss of half our monthly take home pay. We still had a very large mortgage, a son just starting college and plenty of monthly bills as well. I used the small life insurance policy to help make the monthly payments, anticipating that it would only be enough for a year or two.

EMOTIONAL

Each widow feels differently about her home after the death of a spouse. Some refuse to sleep in the same bedroom and may leave his things exactly as they were. Others clear it all out soon and try their best to put it in the past and not dwell on the loss.

Memories of the home and raising a family together can be comforting or painful. The photos and reminders are always there.

Continue reading “When is it Right for a Widow to Move?”

Settling into the Florida house at Christmas

Settling into a new home in Florida has challenges and can be a lot of fun, once the furniture arrives. Christmas in Florida is different too!

It’s been a bit of a challenge to decorate my new Florida house for Christmas when it reaches 85 degrees outside some days. So, I turned down the air-conditioner, put the fireplace channel on the TV and told Alexa to play holiday music and opened the green Rubbermaid bins.

Well, the poor 17-year-old tree we dragged from New York to our new home, I’m sorry to say, didn’t quite make it. The tree trunk wasn’t fitting into the base and Pete’s sledgehammer work caused its demise. Pete was pleased as punch and hoped that was the end of the Christmas tree decorating as we know it, but conveniently Costco still had a few trees for sale! This new tree is super easy to assemble and has multiple options for the pre-attached lights: colored, white, blinking, slow going on and off. Whatever brings you joy this season right?

Speaking of joy, I went back to my first couple of years after Mike died and read the Christmas blog posts. As a new widow, I was overwhelmed by the idea of Christmas and seeing all the wonderful memories represented by the assorted ornaments we had gathered over the years. By the third year, I was ready to decorate again but only used white ornaments and lights. It looked pretty but I still kept all the sad feelings at bay. In contrast this year, all the ornaments came out. I played “Let it Go” and bagged up a bunch of decorations that I was ready to part with. A few trips to Goodwill pared down some of the excess. This year our tree is colorful and full of joy and happy memories. Some days I even use the colored lights instead of the classic white lights, because it just feels good.

I won’t see my kids for the actual holiday days this year. They live far away and I will miss them, but I was lucky to be able to fly to New York City last weekend and spend two fabulous days with both boys. I took them to the Central Park Zoo and we walked around the tree at Rockefeller Center and ate all the best New York foods. It was just the three of us and I’m still smiling over the precious time we shared.

Continue reading “Settling into the Florida house at Christmas”

9 Happy Surprises in Moving to Florida!

9 Happy Surprises in Moving to Florida

One month, and it’s beginning to feel like home. We definitely kept too much stuff from both our homes in New York and still need to purge, but I have faith it will happen. We unpacked most of the 106 cardboard boxes, and found interested parties on the internet to take the empty boxes, thus keeping them from landfills. Signing up for the Next Door app has been helpful. People recommend nail salons, pet sitters, appliance repair services and post photos of random creatures like bugs and bobcats.

We knew it would be hot in Florida in August, but I have some positive revelations from our first month here as well:

1. It’s hot everywhere in August

I had braced myself for the heat. Flip flops, scrunchies for the hair, shorts and a bikini for the pool on my Lanai. Then I heard from folks back home in New York and in Minnesota and in Arizona. The USA seems to be overheating this summer and it’s not only in Florida. The humidity is high, but people here are prepared for it. The stores are all airconditioned. The homes have A/C and private pools. People use the pools more than the beach in the summer, and stay indoors during the hottest time of the day.

2. People wear masks in Florida

Even though the governor has argued that schools can’t mandate students wear masks, people are wearing them in lots of places, more so than they were in New York last month. I was surprised to see more than half the people in Walmart and Publix wearing masks. The COVID positive rates are high in Florida and hospitals are filled with unvaccinated people on ventilators and dying. Many of the schools have defied the governor and are enforcing mask rules to protect the kids and teachers anyway. It is good to see people using caution and common sense in public, even if they don’t have to.

3. Costco sells wine

I am a big fan of Costco. The warehouse store makes me happy and I have bought everything from tires and bunk beds, to steak and pistachios. In the middle of the store, a short drive from my house, is a sommelier and a humungous selection of wines of all types and prices. They even have a Kirkland brand which tastes pretty good. I’m hopeful they will start giving out free samples; maybe a wine pairing next to the morsels of Pierogis and Brie cheese.

4. People are helpful at DMV

Picture on my license plate

Seriously, this was definitely a pleasant surprise. They don’t call it DMV, you go to the “Tax Collector” here. Due to COVID, you make reservations online. I was able to reserve a time for the next day. You fill out some paperwork, and if you don’t, they give you some to fill in when you check in. I replaced my driver’s license in about 30 minutes and had a brand new colorful one with a much better picture; they let you smile here. Then, I registered my car. Behind the agent, is a shelf of beautiful plates you can choose from if you don’t want the one with a plain orange. Mine supports the coral reef and is oh so pretty.

Continue reading “9 Happy Surprises in Moving to Florida!”

The New Home

Moving from New York to Florida in the middle of summer. Widowed, retired and now a newly wed life starts fresh in a new state in a new home. Life after loss.

We moved in a week ago, but the truck is still in transit. One hundred six (I numbered them) cardboard packed boxes, 17 Rubbermaid bins, 12 milk crates with random tools, 6 bicycle boxes filled with TVs and large items, suitcases, 2 couches, 2 rugs,2 bikes and who knows what else is expected to arrive tomorrow.

It’s amazing how easy it is to live simply. The past week we’ve done just fine with our limited belongings that we packed in the SUV for the 23 hour drive to Florida from New York. Why do we have so much stuff?

For months I have been purging. Donations to Goodwill stores and boxes in the church parking lot. Garage sales and listings on Facebook Marketplace provided us with some cash to spend on future new furnishings. The last week we gave away the entire den set for free to some young guys setting up their first apartment. We ended up throwing in pots, pans and Kraft macaroni and cheese as well.

Then there were the piles of garbage the last few weeks at the end of the driveway. With all that purging, I’m surprised anything is making it down here tomorrow!

Over the past few months I checked off boxes on my bucket list. Trips into New York City included walking across the Brooklyn Bridge and visiting MoMa and Central Park. Pete and I visited some Long Island Gold Coast estates to enjoy the gardens and celebrate our 2nd anniversary at the Oheka Castle.

I enjoyed kayaking and some days at the beach, lunch out with friends, and even a couple of girl’s weekends.

I even had fun going back to school to substitute teach and screen the incoming 4 year olds with a pre- kindergarten assessment. They all passed and will be adorable excited learners in September.

It took a few months (I’m exhausted just writing about all this) but it was what I needed and wanted to do before moving 1000 miles away from the place I’ve called home for most of my life.

Continue reading “The New Home”

Clutter Free Life

moving forward after loss includes cleaning out the house of more than you spouses stuff. What to do first and the change clutter free living will bring is peaceful

Get a dumpster he said. We don’t need one I replied. We don’t have that much stuff.

That was the argument Mike and I had for years before he passed. We had thought about downsizing with the boys away at college. Some things would have to go.  I couldn’t imagine putting our personal belongings into a dumpster. We have all really good stuff, I thought.

Well Mike, it is finally happening.  I am moving and boy do I need a dumpster!

For the past five years and a half years I have been slowly going through my clothes, my photos, my books and donating Mike’s clothes and different items we no longer needed.  You know, those things that don’t bring me joy.

I watched the Marie Kondo Netflix series and was inspired. I bought a few books on being clutter free and I thought I was doing all the right things.

Last year my Pete, my new husband, sold his house and moved into mine.  He brought some of his stuff and put the rest in a storage unit for our “Florida house”.  So this year we bought the Florida house and I decided to say Good bye to New York.  I will miss this house, but this chapter for me is closing, ever so slowly, and I am ready for the next one to begin.

Meanwhile, all the stuff I thought I got rid of, still seems to be hiding in the corners of closets and garage space.  How on earth am I ever going to bring all this to Florida.  And do I really need to?

Continue reading “Clutter Free Life”

%d bloggers like this: