Baby Boomer WomanHow Widowhood Affects Your Home

How you live in your home after being widowed, can be a daunting task. After the funeral service, after family and friends are not so present, after the shock has worn off abit, you look around and hear the quiet and wonder “what now?” For Baby Boomer women, the challenges on all fronts can become overwhelming. What to do?

JANE”S STORY

Every widow has her own story and set of circumstances that are uniquely her own. I’m going to share the story of one of my clients. For privacy, I’ll call her Jane. She contacted me month’s after her husband’s passing. Up to this point, she had done all the right things—nothing. The biggest challenge of her day was getting out of bed each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. The next right thing Jane did was contact her accountant and a financial advisor. Together, these experts were able to help her untangle the laborious task of her husband’s investments, bank accounts, insurance policies, etc. She initially tried doing it herself. However, when she was told she needed her husband’s signature on a particular document, and she couldn’t get through to the clerk that her husband was deceased, then she knew  professional help was the order of the day.

When she called me, Jane was ready to start making some changes in her home. We began the process of figuring out what her possibilities were. There no longer was a “we.” “We” became “me” and what on earth did “me” want? After 38 yrs. of being a couple, how do you begin to figure out what singular means?

For Jane, we concentrated on the 4 areas most important to her. She took baby steps that kept her moving forward a little each day.

JANE’S PLAN

1) She decided she wanted to remain in her home for the rest of her life, Not only did she love her home, but it would be a poor time to sell  given the current real estate market and her home was paid for which gave her more financial cushioning. We agreed that as she began to enter her senior years, we would make the necessary changes to insure she’d age-in-place safely and securely.

2) Organization. Years of accumulating “stuff.” Closets and drawers that contained far more than the space allowed. With a friend to keep Jane in check and on task, I gave them three large containers labeled keep, sell, give away. Jane sold the massive T.V. in her family room that her husband had loved and she hated. Clearly, a guy thing. Jane hasn’t yet been able to remove his clothing, yet, she needed the space. We solved it by moving it all to the basement, making sure it’s protected until such time she is emotionally ready to give his clothing away.

3) Physical fitness. Very important for Jane’s physical and emotional health.  She has a problem knee, so daily walking was the answer for her. I also recommended yoga which is terrific for maintaining and/or improving flexibility and balance—two critical factors as she moves into her senior years. Another benefit of yoga is mental. It’s calming and allows the mind to center itself.

4) Interior design. We changed much of her home’s interior paint colors. We re-arranged furniture, changed out lighting, and even removed a non-bearing wall that opened up her living/dining area. For Jane, what really made her smile, was re-doing her master bedroom and bath. It was clearly a masculine feeling room. Yes, there was another monster T.V. that had to go and was replaced with a plasma attached to the wall. It also contained too many large, dark pieces of furniture. After new color on the walls, light-colored furniture to the scale of the space, new window coverings, bedding and giving the bath a fresh new look, Jane now has a serene, private space that gives her a feeling of joy, peace, and beauty.

Do all of these wonderful changes take the place of Jane’s husband? Of course not. But for Jane, she did discover a new sense of self and an emotional strength she didn’t know she had. Her self-esteem has grown and she is able to see positive possibilities in her future.

None of us knows what the future holds. One thing is certain, and that is change happens and there will be events that we can’t control, such as the death of a spouse. How we adapt, and how we forge a positive future, is something we can control. It’s in our hands, hearts, and minds.

In future blogs, I will talk about other transitions that affect Baby Boomer womens’ homes. Subjects such as re-marriage, combining families, downsizing, and merging three generations. Until then, I invite you to share your ideas and opinions on my Facebook page. There is strength in numbers and no one shares better than we women.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy


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