Are You Ready?

That’s a dumb question, when asked in the context from which I am speaking. None of us are ever ready to lose a spouse to the finality of death. I say finality because for the duration of our finite time on earth, that level of companionship is gone. Your marriage partner is a linked to you in spirit, but physically, he or she is no longer present in your daily life.

Are you prepared for the challenges you will face as a once married person who is suddenly widowed?

I knew the day my husband signed consent for his open heart surgery that it was high risk, yet his only option. Still, I was not prepared for the stark reality that as I held his hand and kissed him, asking for God’s will to be done and placing him in the competent hands of the surgical team,it would be our last moment together in this world.

The funeral is over and a million tears have flowed with a few million more waiting to be shed. Cards of thanks have been sent. Phone calls, texts, and emails from friends and family are not as frequent.

Shortly after my husband’s death, a friend’s husband passed away. Our situations were very different, and I’d like to share some of the basic and very practical things we wish we had known.


Are you entitled to survivor benefits of any kind, whether through your spouse’s military service, former employment, social security, life insurance?

Do you know who to contact to acquire these benefits?

Do you know where any required paperwork is located in order to claim these benefits?

Do you know what bills need to be paid, how they are paid (direct withdrawal, by check, cash), how to write a check, what bank accounts your spouse had?


Is property in both of your names? This includes not only a dwelling, but such items as vehicles and firearms

Are credit cards and utility, telephone, television, etc, accounts in your spouse’s name?

Do you know where keys are located for all areas of your home, including garage, outbuildings, cellar or crawl space, attic, vehicles?


Do you know how often filters should be changed in air conditioning/heating units and how to accomplish this?

Do you know how and where to shut off the water in an emergency?

Do you know where a fuse box or other electrical hub is located in your home?

Do you know where basic tools are located – hammer, nails, screwdrivers (Phillips and flathead of various sizes), wrenches, and pliers?

Do you know how to turn on and control the oven, stove, thermostat, vacuum cleaner?

Do you know how often the oven and washing machine and any other major appliances should be cleaned?


Do you know where to take your vehicle for maintenance?

Do you know who to call for plumbing, electrical, heating/air conditioning, hot water heater, water softener, etc malfunctions?

Do you know how to reach medical providers, including those for dental and vision care?


These are only a few of the questions that have come up for my friend and I since our husbands’ passing. They may seem basic and simple, but when you are faced with them and don’t have the answers, they can seem monumental.

I was fortunate to be very knowledgeable in some of these areas, my friend not so much, and vice versa.

The emotional impact of losing your life partner is devastating and only God can predict when it is going to happen to each of us. Be ready and learn about the tasks he or she carries out on a routine basis and how to take over before it becomes a necessity.

Note: I would like to express my thanks to Cherie and the Putting on the New community for your condolences during this difficult time of grief and loss. Thank you for your prayers and your patience with my break from blogging! Bless you all!

Patti Shene About Patti Shene

Patti Shene has enjoyed writing since childhood. Patti hosts Step Into the Light, an interview format Blog Talk Radio show. Since the show launched in September, she has hosted a variety of guests who share the ways they reach out to help others overcome the dark times in their lives. Visit her website for more.


  1. Patti, I am sorry you had to go through this. This is a great way to help others by giving good advice. Thanks so much for taking heartache and turning it into help.

  2. Wonderful advice! God bless you, Patti. I am so sorry you went through all this, and will continue to keep you in my thoughts.

  3. Patti, an awesome post that everyone of us should print off. I can appreciate each and everyone of your comments as my dear husband went home also unexpectedly nearly two years ago now. The one year mark was a significant milestone and the coming two year will find me in a better place I’m sure. I wish you all God’s love and mercy as you reconstruct your life and make this unexpected journey. FYI-have you hear of Dr. Alan Wolfelt of the Center for Loss and Life Transition at Fort Collins, CO? The web site offers helpful resources.

  4. Janet K Brown says:

    Lots of prayers have gone up for you, Patti, I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this valley. This post gives wonderful fact-filled practical advice. Thank you. Most of us aren’t ready. I appreciate the post.

  5. Thank you so much, Penny. I was very fortunate in that I had answers to many of the crucial questions in this post, but I’ve had friends who were left in a total mess! My daughter and I did have a time locating the keys to my husband’s old Ford Ranger that hadn’t been on the road for over two years!

  6. Thank you, Cherie!

  7. Jude, let me express my condolences to you upon your loss as well. I am not familiar with the resource you mentioned in Fort Collins, but I am blessed to be involved in two hospice support groups, one in my town and the other in a neighboring town.

    The ironic thing is that I attended the first group to deal with some issues surrounding my mom’s death in February. After listening to the other members, I commented that I was the only one in the group who had not lost a spouse. However, knowing that my husband was going in for his cardiac catheterization that following Monday, I commented that I wondered if God had directed me to that meeting because I might be where they all were in a few months. It was a week after that meeting that my husband died in surgery. Isn’t it amazing how God knows just what we need!

  8. Thank you, Janet. I can feel so many prayers, and I think that it was is helping me through this. I appreciate every single prayer and every person who takes the time to send them!

  9. Patti, you’ll remain on my prayer list. I imagine things seem to be easier for some days, then wham, a small incident triggers a huge reaction. And Jesus will be there to hold you close.

Speak Your Mind