Six months

Hello all, after a little frivolity and daftness with my last few posts, it’s back to being a little more serious – an update on how we are doing.

Today is six months since the most horrible day of my life. Doesn’t time fly when you’re having f, er, doesn’t time fly!

Anyway, we are over in Scarborough to start the scattering of Susanne’s ashes. We are scattering them at places that Susanne loved, It’s going to take some time to get round them all, but it will also be a journey of happy memories. We are here with Susanne’s parents. I had planned it to be a first trip just me and the boys with them maybe joining us for the scattering, but they decided to join us for the break. I may grumble occasionally, but I have to acknowledge that they have lost their only child. I really can’t imagine what that must be like – regardless of the age of the son or daughter.

It was only after I booked that I realised that this hotel is the same hotel we stayed in the last time we were here, and that was the last time we all came away together. On arrival, it looks like we are even in the same room as last time. I was saying nothing, but Reece noticed.

We have been out to the headland, where we found a spot with a nice view over the south bay and scattered a little there. We didn’t make any big speeches or anything, we can all have our own thoughts. There were a few moist eyes, but all of us scattered a little.

After that we complied with tradition for a visit to a seaside resort and had fish and chips. Norman and Freda had a walk around town, while the boys and I walked round the headland back to the hotel. They asked if it was quicker through town or round. I said town was probably shorter, but the headland is mainly flat, we just have to climb up the cliff to get to the hotel. Reece was not impressed at that comment!

Anyway, the three of us are doing OK at the moment. We have most of the main firsts out of the way now. All our birthdays, even things like meetings at school. The good news for you lot is that as a result these missives will be getting a little less frequent Remaining for the three of us now are our wedding anniversary, our first big holiday and then the anniversary in September.

Robert is Robert, those of you that know him will fully get that!

Reece is currently doing well. Winston’s Wish have worked wonders with him, and he is a much happier boy than he was. He has dropped most of his anger now, and the sadness that followed it has receded hugely. Even with what has happened, he is doing well at school and meeting targets. He is also taking less time out of class now.

As for me. As I say I am doing OK. I am being positive. I am looking forwards. I am getting out occasionally. I am even starting to enjoy life more. You lot have had a big input to that – the support from you all – family and friends old and new.

Once again I’ll mention my new friends from WAY, and the associated group WAR. These guys are just fabulous. I have made new friends locally and nationally. Far from being a morose bunch all sitting around licking our wounds, they are a group that get it. There’s support and sympathy, There are laughs, there’s the understanding that we all move forwards at different rates, and that is just fine. mIf any of you have friends that are in the same boat – widowed young – mention WAY to them. They may choose not to join, but doing that has been one of the best things I have done. By all means point them my way to talk about WAY.

The WAR group I keep mentioning are not officially connected to WAY, but they are totally hatstand. Again, finding them was a good thing. None of us want to qualify, but having qualified it’s like being with old friends. The way we can sit down together and talk rubbish, have a laugh or discuss our personal stories.

As I have said before, I am totally happy to have met Susanne. Knowing what I know now, I’d do it all again. There’s one decision that I might change, but that’s only because of information that has become available since. BRCA1 in the family may have altered decision on treatment. I could beat myself up about it, but that information wasn’t available. We made the best decisions we could on the information we had. Even if we had known, there’s no guarantee that the treatment may have worked better.

New friends:-)

Before Christmas I joined a group called WAY – Widowed and young. It is a group for people widowed up to the age of fifty, and is an opportunity to talk to people in a similar situation. It is surprising how many of us there are at times. Even before I qualified for membership I knew a few young widows (for the sake of simplicity, I’ll use that as a generic term), despite not really noticing just how many I did know.

You may also remember that at Christmas I said I was looking more for reasons to say yes to invites, and to grasp opportunities that present a little more. So following some discussions on the group forum I “organised” a meet today. I was a little twitchy about anyone turning up, but quite a few did and we had a fab few hours, and we have loose thoughts of a few more meets.

What I will say is that if any of you that have friends in a similar situation, mention WAY to them. They may find it useful, they may choose not to join. Just let them know.

Two more firsts

Hi All. Given how I haven’t exactly been backwards when it comes to landmarks, you will probably have been wondering why I didn’t say anything about mother’s day. Those closer will understand that there was a second landmark right on the heels of it, and I wanted to just do the one. Yes, it would have been Susanne’s birthday yesterday.

Thanks to all that have been in touch, here, privately or in real life.

To say it has been strange would be putting it mildly – for the last month or so I would normally have been sneaking around a little arranging presents, cards and flowers. That secrecy normally drove my organisation somewhat so I was a little later than normal ordering the flowers for my mum and Susanne’s mum.

At school Reece was still involved in the card making, but he made the card for my mum instead.

Sunday I deliberately didn’t make too much fuss in the morning. Both boys knew what the day was, so I didn’t remind them too much. We had a visit from one of Susanne’s old friends at lunchtime then we went round to see Susanne’s mum for a bit, then off up to my mum’s – basically what we would normally do, but with a quieter morning.

Robert was Robert – he has shown very little emotion, but that’s the way he is.

I told Reece I was proud of him. He had a couple of moments but managed the day fabulously well.

Onto yesterday. This was probably the strangest one. Susanne’s birthday was always the one I like to make a fuss of her on. Of all the events through a year that we mark, a birthday is the one that’s just about them. Everything else is shared – Christmas, Anniversaries, Valentine’s day, Mother’s day. They all apply to at least someone else.

As we got up, again I deliberately said nothing to the boys, as I didn’t want either swinging it to try to get a day off.

To mark the day we all (Susanne’s parents, my parents, my brothers me and the boys) all went out for a curry at our favourite Indian – The Mahabharat Restaurant in Hindley. A few Chicken Tikka Tangas were consumed, and a few glasses of red were drunk in her memory.

As per Mother’s day, Robert was Robert, and Reece had a couple of moments. He has been told I am proud of him.

Today at school Reece came home with a little present he had made for Susanne – he wanted to do something for her.

We are now coming up for six months. We have got most of the firsts out of the way now. All that are left for the three of us really now are our wedding anniversary in June, Our first Summer Holiday (Still not decided what we should do) and then the first anniversary in September.

A few things to think about!

OK everyone, This one’s a bit serious. Following a couple of discussions elsewhere, Here’s a few thoughts for those of you in relationships, especially if you have children. This may seem a little morbid, but these are important things to consider.
1. Make sure you have adequate life insurance. Make sure both of your are covered on it. Even if one of you is the breadwinner, and the other a home maker, if anything happens to the home maker, the mortgage being covered makes life a whole lot easier for them at a difficult time.
Make sure there’s enough. You want any mortgage to be paid off. It would help to get any other liabilities covered too, and if there’s something left over so the breadwinner can have the choice to take a sabbatical so much the better. Don’t forget funerals are not particularly cheap. Having the money at least on the way makes it easier to handle.
2. Make a will. Make sure people know where to find it. This is particularly important if you are not married.
3. Talk to each other about what you want to happen. Buried or cremated? Religious service or not? If Cremated, what do you want to happen with your ashes. There are a LOT of decisions to be made quickly.
4. If you are not married, consider it (or a civil partnership). It doesn’t have to be a big flash wedding, but being married (or in a CP) brings on extra rights as well as changing where any estate goes if intestate. Being married may also bring extra entitlements, especially if you have children – Things like Widowed Parent’s Allowance or pensions. That can be a few hundred pounds a month. This and making a will are important, especially if there are children from previous relationships.
By all means decide not to get married, but make it a conscious decision, knowing some of the fuller implications.
5. Document your finances. Make sure you have a note of all your bank accounts, and any liabilities. That will make it easier for your partner or executors dealing with your affairs.
6. Even if you run your finances separately, it is a good idea to have a joint account with enough for a couple of months worth of bills in it (unless you each have that sort of money to hand). The insurance policy may take a little time to come through, and your partners accounts are frozen on their death. You only get access once you have a Grant of Probate or Letter Of Administration. You need to fully value the estate before you can apply for that. See note 5. If accounts turn up slowly, everything gets delayed.

7. Tallying up your bank accounts once in a while lets you see what your estate is worth. Don’t forget to get a reasonable idea of the value of your house too. This is very useful as there are two very important numbers to look at. The first one – £250,000. If you are married but intestate the first £250,000 goes straight to your spouse. Above that it starts to depend upon whether or not you have children or other surviving family. A Will of course sorts all that.
The other number of importance is £325,000 for inheritance tax. This isn’t an issue for passing to a spouse, but if something happens to both of you, it isn’t a tremendously high bar if you own a home. Add in insurance cover, death in service benefits from employment and it is easy to hit. Better to know and take advice an plan up front.