Advice to Widowed Fathers of Children
It’s all right for your children to see you grieve to some extent for their mother, but they should also feel that you-or someone-is in control and able to tend to their needs. If your child senses that you find it very painful to see her grieve, she may stop grieving in your presence to protect you, which is probably not in her best interests. Your child needs to have someone in her life who can be there for her when she grieves, to help her get her feelings out. If you are that person, try to listen sympathetically when she grieves, no mater how hard it is for you to listen. Express a willingness to listen, but don’t force grieving on your child. Often your child won’t feel sad when you do. He may cry for a few minutes and then be ready to play.
Allow your child to decide whether he or she will attend the funeral, but others have told me that young children should never attend a funeral. I explained to my daughters what would happen at the funeral, and showed them where it would take place. The five-year old wanted to go; the three-year old did not. I also arranged for someone to “shadow” my five-year old at the funeral so that if she changed her mind and wanted to leave, someone could take her out and attend to her needs. In the years since, the older one has never expressed regret about attending the funeral, but the younger one has sometimes said she wished she had attended. I nevertheless believe that each made the right decision for herself. The funeral presents an opportunity to collect memories about your child’s mother. Someday your child may wonder what her mother was like. At the funeral, you can have an announcement made that you would like people to write to you with memories of your child’s mother. Have written copies of the announcement with your address available. Many people wrote such memories for us. There have been times when my daughters wanted very much to hear me read them, and periods lasting years when we did not look at them. But they are there for when they want them. If people speak at the funeral about your child’s mother, you may want to have the funeral videotaped, macabre as that seems.
After the Funeral.
If possible, consult a child psychologist. While psychologists can be expensive, many health plans provide for some bereavement counseling. Try to find a bereavement group for your child. Bereavement groups for children are often run by hospitals and hospices, and many are free or available at low cost. Bereavement groups and psychologists serve different, though related, purposes. Psychologists can help you address specific issues and problems unique to your child. Bereavement groups allow children to share their feelings with kids who have had similar experiences and feelings. That is especially important if your child is feeling like an oddball because he is the only kid he knows without a mother. It’s best if the bereavement group includes at least one other motherless child because a child who has lost a mother has suffered a different kind of loss than other bereaved children. On another subject, try to keep your mother’s family involved with your child. They will give your child some sense of his roots on his mother’s side.
Tips provided by http://www.education.com/answers/profile/Louiseasl/:
1- Equip yourself with a cadre of people who can reliably watch your child(ren) and give you time to work through your grief. You will want to have some normal downtime to engage in regular activities when you are ready. (And someday you WILL be ready.)
2- Get a few great books to answer general parenting questions. I recommend books from the series- WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN….
Also, Brenda Nixon has written THE BIRTH TO FIVE BOOK which is another great resource.
3- Keep a journal. Write your feelings down. Also, write down your new joys. Some people find that writing a letter to their child or their deceased partner is an effective way to help through the grieving process. You will help answer future questions for your child too by writing now.
4- Find ways to enjoy time with your child. Go join others with play dates. Gymboree or at the local YMCA perhaps? Give yourself permission to find joy in your day. And photograph your child during their milestones. Someday they will want to see photos of when they were a baby, a tot and documenting their life will prove to be helpful to both of you.
5- If you have ANY concerns about your child’s development call the local school district and ask for a consult with the Early Intervention Team. Also, keep your pediatrician in the loop.
Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of www.SigningFamilies.com
Host of Learning and Laughter with Louise
Helping Your Widowed Parent With Legal and Financial Issues
A checklist for helping a surviving parent get organized. Provided by: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/help-widowed-parent-legal-financial-29444.html
1. Find assets.
Often, just one spouse manages most of a couple’s finances. Be sure that your surviving parent knows where important assets are located. Over time, you may find it helpful to make a master list of bank and brokerage accounts, retirement plans, insurance policies, real estate, items in safe deposit boxes, and other significant assets. Make note of sizeable debts as well.
2. Collect insurance.
Find out whether your surviving parent is the beneficiary of a life insurance policy and, if so, contact the insurance company and file a claim for benefits. This is one of the first things you can do to ensure there’s enough cash on hand.
3. Apply for benefits.
Helping your parent apply for Social Security benefits should be near the top of your list of things to do. Contact the Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov) for information about survivor’s benefits. In addition, investigate other benefits to which your parent may be entitled, including pension, veterans, or other employment-related payouts.
4. Change title to jointly owned assets.
If your parents owned property together — as joint tenants or in another form of joint ownership — the survivor should change the title document to show that he or she now owns the property alone. This will make it easier for your surviving parent to manage the property — and for you to wrap up your surviving parent’s affairs when the time comes. Check title documents for real estate, vehicles, bank or brokerage accounts, and other significant assets to see whether you need to update ownership records.
5. Update will and trusts.
Losing a mate will more than likely cause your parent to reevaluate his or her own plans for leaving property at death. If your surviving parent has a will or living trust, you should eventually have him or her review it and change it, if necessary, to reflect your parent’s current life circumstances and wishes. Also take a look at who is named as beneficiary of retirement plans and any other major assets that will pass outside the will or trust.
6. Take steps to avoid probate court.
When changing title documents and reviewing your surviving parent’s estate plan, you should consider whether any part of the estate will be subject to probate when he or she dies. Simple probate avoidance methods could save a bundle of time and money — for example, your parent might name pay-on-death beneficiaries for a bank or brokerage accounts that used to be jointly owned.
7. Update insurance policies.
If your deceased parent is still named as a beneficiary on insurance policies, those policies will need to be modified, cashed out, or canceled, depending on your parent’s current needs and wishes.
8. Make a health care directive (living will).
If your parent hasn’t already prepared a living will and a durable power of attorney for health care, now is the time. These important documents will allow your parent to set out health care wishes and name a trusted person — perhaps you — to oversee his or her care and make medical decisions if that ever becomes necessary. Making health care documents can also open the door to discussing your parent’s feelings about organ donation, burial or cremation, and other final arrangements.For more information, seeHelping a Loved One Make a Power of Attorney.
9. Make a financial power of attorney.
This document lets your parent name someone to handle financial matters — from writing monthly checks to managing investments — if he or she ever becomes incapacitated and unable to take care of things alone. Without this document in hand, you or other loved ones would most likely have to go to court to get the necessary authority. For more information, see Helping an Elder Make a Power of Attorney.
10. Organize documents.
A world of careful planning won’t do any good if you can’t find important paperwork when you need it. Do what you can to help your mom or dad set up a good filing system. Here are some critical things to keep track of:
- will, trust, and other estate planning documents
- powers of attorney
- bank and brokerage account statements
- retirement plan statements
- government benefit paperwork
- insurance policies
- business records
- tax returns
- credit card and debt information
- secured places, such as a safe or safe deposit box
- email accounts and passwords
- property records for real estate, cars, and other major assets.