Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Reviewing: "A Handbook for Widows" by Corrine Jacobson and Rose M. Rubin

Having a spouse die unexpectedly is a shock and something that happens all too frequently. With no warning or planning, the widow or widower is left behind to deal with the aftermath as best they can. This small self published book offers guidance for widows as well as widowers on how to deal with all the things that have to be dealt with in the aftermath of the death of a spouse.

Broken into five sections, the book opens after the preface with a bullet point “The Immediate Things- A Quick Check List.” Those same items are covered in depth in the first section of the book titled “Section One: First Things First.” This is where the authors Corrine Jacobson (a resident of Fort Worth, Texas) and Rose M. Rubin go into more detail on what to do in the first minutes and hours after the death. From notifying friends and family, assigning someone to make sure the out of towners have a place to stay, involving family in what is important in the eulogy, to dealing with the funeral home, making sure someone is at your home during the funeral to keep it safe from thieves who read newspaper obituaries (a growing issue via online obituaries as well) to dealing with the actual funeral, each area and others are covered with compassion and clear directions. The resounding theme throughout this section is let friends and family help you while you do as much as you want to yourself.

At some point, after the immediacy of the funeral, everyone else will return to their normal lives leaving you behind to deal with things by yourself. That is the theme of the second section titled “Your Next Steps” which begins on page seventeen. The first night alone will be the hardest and some good advice as to how to deal with that leads off the section. After that first night, topics regarding cherishing memories and keepsakes, thinking positive and making sure you have positive people around you, focusing on what you are doing no matter how mundane the task, and staying in control through self discipline are some of the general ideas presented here.

“Section Three: Handling the Estate” follows and addresses items such as bank accounts, death certificates, how to deal with the spouse’s employer, social security and how dealing with the immediate financial situation is very important. You need to figure out what needs to be paid (mortgage, rent, utilities, etc) and what stocks, bonds, etc you own now. The main theme in this section is to educate yourself on the current situation and while you may seek advice, make sure that you retain all control over your financial situation. Basic estate terms such as probate, power of attorney, etc. are explained as well as the process needed to determine the value of the estate along with tips on Medicare and insurance claims of all types, dealing with Social Security and various other issues.

Beginning on page thirty-six, “Section Four: It’s Your Home” advocates staying where you are for at least a year. By doing so, you still have your support system as well as a familiar outdoor environment. Clearly, though it is your home it has fundamentally and massively changed. At some point, it will be time to deal with your spouse’s things and this chapter addresses how to deal with that, as well as dealing with the unneeded prescriptions, any medical alert system, and other items. Since this book is primarily aimed at widows, the chapter concludes with the idea that you may have to learn tasks that are unfamiliar to you such as changing the batteries in various remotes, changing the batteries in the smoke detectors, changing light bulbs, knowing where the fuse box is located, etc.

“Section Five: Your Own New Life” begins on page forty-one and urges the reader to think of the positives of being alone. Now you can control the thermostat without complaint, watch what you want, run fans or not, etc. Now is the time to embrace new projects and people, try things that for whatever reason you never tried before, decorate your home to recognize the season and/or holiday, take a trip, start exercising if you didn’t before (and if you did by all means keep going), bringing a pet home and numerous other ideas. The overall theme is to get back out there and live again in a new way as your life takes a new direction. Take care of yourself and your environment and have some fun along the way doing what you want to do. Make sure to repay in some small way all the people who have helped you in your time of need.

A list of references for the various sources that are quoted in the book, author bios, and a brief acknowledgements statement bring the fifty-six page book to a close.

This well written fifty-six page book is an excellent guide for both widows and widowers. While the book does not provide legal advice and the authors do not claim it does, it does provide excellent general advice on what to do at the time of death and in the immediate afterwards. Full of compassion, the book serves as both a guide as well as an excellent starting point on numerous issues for an incredibly painful time in life.

A Handbook for Widows
By Corrine Jacobson and Rose M. Rubin
C. A. Bond, Publisher
ISBN# 978-0-615-26424-0
56 Pages

Material supplied by author Corrine Jacobson in exchange for my objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2010


Terry W. Ervin II said...

A book I never thought about someone needing, even me some day. Something to put on the pick up list.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Something I hadn't thought of either before reading the book. It is a good one and well worth it.

Thanks for reading AND commenting Terry.