July 22, 2018

The Loss Of A Loved One

An unpleasant reality for many of us who are married or in a long term relationship will be the likelihood of facing the death of a spouse or partner. Women tend to outlive men so we usually think in terms of widowhood. Interestingly, recent longevity studies show a chance in this accepted pattern: men are closing the longevity gap.

A study released a few years ago on trends in the United States reports that over a ten year period expectancy for males grew by 4.6 years while the predicted lifespans for women rose by less than 3 years. Women still live, on average five years longer than men, but that gap is narrowing. The point is becoming a widow or widower is a life experience that may confront just as many men as women in the years ahead.

I have been asked to address the topic of losing a loved one. It is a subject fraught with intense emotions and life altering consequences, but one I don't feel adequate to address on my own. A guest post submitted a few years ago continues to resonate with me. It deals with this subject from the perspective of a person who can speak about it from first-hand experience, I have posted it here for you to read and consider.

If you are single you might find some value in the author's words, too. You undoubtedly have friends who are married. These suggestions may give you a little guidance in helping a friend through this process. 

4 Practical Ways To  Prepare for the Loss of a Spouse
Denial Won’t Do, Warns Author-Widow
The sound of silence was the most haunting for Thelma Zirkelbach on her first night home after her husband’s death. “I’d lost my husband, but I hadn’t lost his voice, I told myself,” says Zirkelbach, who had spent so many nights the previous year at hospitals with her husband Ralph, who died not long after being diagnosed with leukemia.

 “I picked up the phone and there was no dial tone. If the phone was dead, Ralph’s voice would be gone forever.” Through her panicked daze, after having sunk to the floor with her spirits, she realized the phone jack was unplugged. She plugged it in and heard his voice one more time through the answering machine. It would be the first thing she fixed around the house without Ralph’s help in decades.

“There were many moments like that in the year after his death. One of the things I had to learn was to find help from many people, whereas for most of my adult life I had the help of many in one man,” says Zirkelbach, author of “Stumbling Through the Dark,”  a memoir about an interfaith couple facing one of life’s greatest spiritual challenges.

Loving couples wince at the thought of losing their spouse and may even deny the idea despite a terminal medical diagnosis, but accepting the possibility helps in preparing for the years that follow, says Zirkelbach. She offers the following tips for doing that:

 Consider the best way for all loved ones to say good-bye: Ralph’s family comes from an evangelical Christian background, whereas Thelma is Jewish. Memorial services are designed for the surviving family and friends, and Zirkelbach held a service at her synagogue, which was filled with friends and colleagues. “Make sure you do all you can to best say goodbye in your own way, which may include your religion or some other ritual,” she says.

 Take stock of the necessary services you’ll need to replace: In many ways, Ralph was an old-fashioned Midwesterner who was a handyman around the house, moved heavy boxes, dispensed with unwanted critters like cockroaches, and acted as a one-man security system. He also provided smaller services in which a companion can help, such as fastening necklaces. Since Ralph’s death nearly eight years ago, Thelma has hired her current handyman, air conditioning technician, accountant, financial advisor and attorney. 

 No matter how independent you are, accept the fact that you may need emotional support: Soon after her husband’s death, Zirkelbach joined a support group for widows and widowers and found solace in the company of others who had loved and lost. At one point, the group leader connected with members by saying they were blessed to have loved someone enough to mourn them. “His statement turned grief on its head,” she says.

 Nurture your spiritual life: “I have become ‘more Jewish’ during my widowhood,” she says. “When I was a child, Judaism was part of the background of my life, like the Muzak you hear in elevators but don’t really listen to.” Now, however, religion has moved to the forefront of her life, and she adds she is thankful for the strength her faith has given her. “Yes, in spite of loss, I have still found joy in living,” she says.

Author Thelma Zirkelbach has been in private practice in speech pathology, specializing in young children with speech, language and learning disabilities, for many years. She began her writing career as a romance novelist. Her husband’s death from leukemia in 2005 propelled her to creative non-fiction. Her web site is Widowsphere: A Circle of Hope.

Satisfying Retirement received  no compensation for this guest post.

July 20, 2018

Now Available: Preparing For Your Active Life After Retirement

 Preparing For Your Active Life After Retirement is a guide to the most exciting journey of your life, the one that takes place after retirement. This is the second in a series of three new booklet-length resources now available.

Whether you are still working toward this new phase of your life, or already there, Preparing For Your Active Life should be one of the resources you consult.

Taken from the pages of Satisfying Retirement, I have explored the most important subjects you should understand:

* Preparing for Your Active Life After Retirement

* How Do You Know When To Retire?

* Why Do We Make The Choices We Do?

* What’s Best: Aging in Place or a Retirement Community

* The Best Place for You to Retire

* Searching For Your One Great Passion May Be a Mistake

The Best Place for You to Retire

* Making Peace With an Aging Body

* The One Thing No One Tells You About Retirement

....and more.

Available as a Kindle download, this guide is priced at just $2.99. The length is reader-friendly and just over 40 pages. If there is enough interest, I may also make a paperback version available in the future.

Designed to be part of a three booklet series, Preparing for Your Active Life After Retirement covers some of the subjects that concern you most. 

The third booklet, Preparing To Make The Most of Your Free Time After Retirement will be available in late summer.

After the success of Living a Satisfying Retirement, I am pleased to offer vital retirement options and retirement advice in this new format. I'd very much appreciate your purchase of this booklet to help support  this blog, and as a resource for you. 

Positive reviews are crucial to the booklet's long term success. If you buy it and like it I'd appreciate a 4 or 5 rating. Any lower rating than that, I ask that you voice your concerns directly with me so I can fix any problems you identity.

NoteLiving a Satisfying Retirement is undergoing a revision and is not available for sale at the moment until I am happy with the 2nd edition. In the meantime, please take a look at these new booklets available today.

July 17, 2018

What Don't You Miss From Your Youth?

There was a tremendous response to What Do You Miss From Your Youth?  It seems everyone had a lot of fun bringing back memories of all sorts from more carefree times. I enjoyed  the comments because they stimulated all sorts of memories for me, too. If you haven't taken the time to read all the comments, do yourself a favor and click the link above. What fun.

Several readers suggested the flipside of that post: What Don't You Miss From Your Youth? What happened when you were younger that you are glad is over and done with? What was in your past and should stay there? 

Again, like the previous post, let's keep things more fun or silly than serious. I will start with some of mine:

1. Junior High dances. Boys on one side, girls on the other. Awkward and terrifying. 

2. Piano Lessons. I did play the clarinet for 10 years and enjoyed that instrument. But, the piano lessons with a woman who was unhappy most of the time....not so much.

3. The day each fall that Daylight Savings Time ended. That was the saddest day of the year for me. Cold, snow, darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon, no playing outside. I hated what that day signified.

4. The parental rule about only one Coke per week. Oddly, today I rarely have a soft drink. But, then, it was a hated restriction. 

5. Having to wait for my parents to take me to the library. 

6. Summers were too long...I liked school and looked forward to the new year right after Labor Day. 

7. Living in houses with no air conditioning and sharing one bathroom with 5 people. Ugh! 

8. Tent Camping. I enjoyed everything about Boy Scouts, except camping. It was always cold or wet, the ground was hard and bumpy, and of course, I always had to go to the bathroom multiple times overnight which meant, leaving the wam sleeping bag, getting dressed and walking into the woods!

9. My afternoon paper route when it was snowing. We lived up a hill and about a mile from where my first customer lived. Pulling a wagon through snow, fully loaded with newspapers, was not my thing.

10. Dating (very much like point #1). I was scared of talking to girls, didn't have much social confidence, was in the geek group at school. Dating was painful and therefore very infrequent.

OK, your turn. What are you glad is a fading memory?

July 14, 2018

What Do You Miss From Your Youth?

This might be kind of fun, thinking about what was memorable or important while growing up, but is no longer part of your life. Let's keep our responses more fun than serious!

To get things started, here are some of the things I miss from my childhood:

1) Sunday nights with Ed Sullivan. Beatles and Topo Gigio..need I say more?

2) Store not open on Sunday. Family drives, picnics, church.

3) No cellphones. No spam calls, no interruptions 24/7.

4) Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo, and Leave It To Beaver

5) Winnie the Pooh and his friends. 

6) More bikes, fewer cars.

7) Lionel model train sets. Then, HO gauge. Not as impressive, but a layout could fit on a normal piece of plywood. 

8) Allowed one soft drink a week, but my brothers and I got to pick the day. My parents had a thing about soft drinks and our teeth.

9) My weight and physical fitness were of little concern. No matter what I ate I remained thin and never ran out of energy.

10) Home delivery
 of the mail. What's junk mail?

11) Taking the train somewhere. Or, piling in the family station wagon for an 8 hour drive to the grandparents' home.

OK, your turn. What made your childhood memorable?

July 12, 2018

Is Your Retirement an End or a Beginning?

That is a good question with an important answer. Retirement is both an end and a beginning. It is a transition between two phases of life. Whether that is a positive or negative change is really one of attitude and expectations.

For many of us, our job, our career, the time we spent earning a living came to define us. The people we worked with may have been the core of our social structure. If married, our family's life revolved around work commitments. Vacations happened when there was a lull in the schedule. Weekends may have been at the mercy of mandatory staff and management meetings. For those of us who traveled a lot, being home was more about catch up than relaxation and family. Hobbies or passions? No time.

When someone asked what we "do," we had a ready answer: a description of our place in a company or industry. Raising a few children, being married or engaged, working on a novel....that wasn't implied in the question. The "correct" answer was always related to our income.

For us, the start of retirement was the end of something: an easily defined, socially acceptable place in the scheme of things. For a period of time, we may have struggled to figure out who we were without the title. The answer to what we "do" became hesitant and poorly defined. 

For others, retirement was a beginning, the conclusion to a life of work,
a clean break between two stages of life: one externally focused, the other internally. What had paid the bills and produced enough investments to  stop was enjoyable and fulfilling. We liked our work. But, we knew life held something different for us. We were created for more. We embraced the break.

Maybe we worked at something because it was required to support us and others. The job was a slog to be endured. Nights and weekends meant a small taste of freedom. We wondered what else might satisfy us. When a chance to retire became more than a dream, we jumped across the break between the two ways of living, sure that something good lay before us.

How we mentally approached retirement was quite different but the final result was the same: another way of life. A poll on this blog asked "if knowing what you know now, would you have retired sooner than you did?"  62% responded that, 'No, I retired at just the right time." 

To me, that is a good measurement of satisfaction. Whether the respondents initially saw retirement as an end or a new beginning, more than 6 out of 10 are happy with the timing. Add the 15% who wished they had begun their satisfying retirement earlier and there is an obvious conclusion: retirement could be both an end or a beginning, but however it was approached it is a welcome stage of life.

"Officially," I am now into my 18th year of this part of my life.  I loved my career and have tremendous memories. I entered retirement with some fear and uncertainty. It took a few years to find my stride. Now, I am exploring all I can be. Each part of life was quite different from the other, but I needed the first stage to realize the blessings of the second.

If you'd like to read more, here are a few articles to inspire you:

Is Retirement an Ending or a New Beginning?

Life After Retirement: What Do I Do Now?

The first in a series of three new booklet-length resources is now available. Preparing For Your Financial Future after Retirement is a guide to the most exciting journey of your life, the one that takes place after retirement.

Whether you are still working toward this new phase of your life, or already there, Preparing For Your Financial Future should be one of the resources you consult.