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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘transition’

Circle Of Friends: A Group For The Single Woman

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

 



            When you lose your spouse, whether s/he was sick or healthy, whether it’s through divorce or death, the transition period into the next part of your life is a difficult one. Many new singles find that they no longer fit into their old friendships. They are no longer part of a couple, so associating with couples can be uncomfortable. Often watching a couple’s interaction, when you are no longer part of one, can cause feelings of sadness and loss. It can leave you longing for the life you no longer have. For well spouses it can leave you longing for the fantasy that you didn’t have and now know will never happen. Many new singles, particularly women, find that their former friends are no longer as available as they once were. Some women who are married begin to see their former, now single friends as almost a threat. Invitations to gatherings or even a movie or lecture become less forthcoming. And suddenly, a new companion called loneliness begins to stalk the newly single woman.

 

 Finding new friends is not easy. You are older and all those places where you met women of a similar age and common interests that enabled you to make friendships easily no longer exist. You have long ago stopped walking your children to school or taking them to after-school activities. You might even be a grandparent. Where do grandparents go to meet new friends?

 

  I recently discovered an interesting group of women. They are all single women over 50 years of age. Some are divorced, some were never married, and some are widows.  These women belong to a group called Circle of Friends. The group meets in the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors in Montreal, Quebec (where “senior” means 50 years of age or older). The group meets twice a month in the evenings, as many of the members are still working. They have lectures and interactive programs. Many of the women did not know each other before they joined the group. Some were depressed from a recent loss of a spouse when they became a member. Many were lonely. They came here to participate in interesting activities and hopefully make new friends. During the interactive programs, the women have a chance to get to know one another and develop friendships. Recently, they decided to form interest groups. Now any member can join other members for, among other activities, walking groups, Mahjongg, movies, theatre, bowling and Judaic Studies. These interest groups are smaller and give the ladies a chance to meet fellow members with whom they share a common interest. To date, the membership is over ninety women. Everyone has a membership phone list where people have noted things they enjoy doing. Feel like going to the ballet and want company? Check your Circle of Friends list and see who else enjoys the ballet and give her a call. More often than not, you both have a lovely evening, and a friendship has begun.

 

The Cummings Centre houses the group and provides support. The group itself is self-run by its members who decide what direction they wish to go in. There is a volunteer office where anyone can come to give their time or suggest an idea to try out. I spoke with one of the members of this year’s steering community, Sheila Esar. She shared with me how she and so many others have made new friends from the group.  She noted how many members, including her, joined the group while trying to adjust to their new lives alone. Most were naturally depressed and lonely. Their confidence diminished by what they had been through. She noted how satisfying it was for her to see so many members come out of their shells, regain their confidence and begin to live again. One member told me how she heard of the group and came to see what it was about. She was naturally anxious about coming since she knew no one. To her surprise, people were immediately friendly. In less than a week, two of the members called to invite her for lunch. Now she is in charge of one of the interest groups and hates to miss a single meeting. Because they know how it feels to be alone, the women make it a point to greet and spend time with any new member who comes into the group. And that attitude helps make for the warm atmosphere you feel as soon as you enter a meeting of Circle of Friends.

 

 There is room for every single woman here, no matter her situation or interest. One member of the steering committee said that she felt well spouses with husbands in care facilities would be welcome as well, since in actuality their lives are really that of a single even though they are still married.

 

            I thought the concept of the group wonderful and wanted to suggest that every community center, senior center and any place that provides support for large groups might think of establishing something similar. But the key to what makes this group really work is the commitment to warmth and inclusion that permeates the group and encompasses anyone who walks in the door.  With that kind of commitment, no group like this will fail.

 

 You can contact me at annnovick@hotmail.com

Death Of A Spouse (Part Six – Practicalities)

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006


(Names Changed)


 


When I met with recently widowed well spouses, who were kind enough to share their feelings with me, they were also very eager to share practical things they did that help make their transition to being widowed easier. As I share their stories and ideas I want to emphatically state that I have no idea if some of these ideas have any legal ramifications and one should discuss it with a lawyer. Legalities also differ from place to place. So what may apply in one state may not be done this way or be permissible in another.


 


Banking And The Joint Account


 


Most married couples have a joint account that is designated either/or. That means that either person can access the account, deposit or withdraw money, etc. It is my understanding that when one of the spouses dies, the bank blocks the account, and it can no longer be used by the survivor. In order to clear it, both the death certificate and the will must be presented to the bank. This is to rightly ensure that there are no other beneficiaries who may have claim to the account. The problem occurs, however, when everything has been left to the surviving wife or husband.


 


The account is now frozen; perhaps an estate account is set up and the surviving spouse no longer has access to the funds, though it is temporary. Temporary can last quite a while as bills add up, and you have no access to the money in the account. One woman made note of the fact that over a year after her husband’s death she was still receiving checks in his name and had a very difficult time cashing them as his name was no longer on the account.


 


Here Are Their Stories


 


“We always had a joint account.” Said Alice. “It was one of those either/or accounts that make banking easier. Either one of us could do the banking. You know, the way most marriage bank accounts are set up and organizational accounts are not. Well, when my husband passed on, I was advised not to tell the bank of his passing. It was the best advice I got. I inherited everything anyway, so to my way of thinking there was nothing inappropriate. Anyway it was so much easier to handle all those extra bills that were coming in. The burial expense alone was thousands. I don’t know what I would have done if our savings were frozen. I put everything on the charge cards, and I wouldn’t have been able to pay the bills without access to my account. I would have wound up paying the exorbitant interest on the cards until that bank went through the papers just to get me back to where I was in the first place. I hate to think what legal fees I might have incurred as well. It was such an awful time. I think the added stress would have pushed me over the edge.”


 


“I didn’t know I had to inform the bank of anything,” said Chana. “I just kept on banking like I always did. Checks were still coming in on my husband’s name, because I was in the middle of a move when he passed on, so the utilities and such were cancelled, and the balances sent in checks under his name alone. I just deposited them as usual. I even found hundreds of dollars of older, unused traveler’s checks in his name alone. I just deposited them to our account. I don’t know how I’d have coped otherwise. It’s over a year since his death, and I still periodically get a check for us both, but in his name alone. I just deposit it in our account.”


 


“I thought I might have to tell the bank that she died,” said Avrum. “But I was so busy with the funeral and later, the mountain of paper work that comes with a death, that I forgot all about it. There was so much to attend to, and we had our affairs in order, each inheriting fully from the other. As a matter of fact I just got her tax refund. It was even made out to ‘the estate of….’ I remember being asked by the teller, who had difficulty speaking English, what ‘estate’ meant. I said it’s when someone dies and you inherit. He didn’t say anything about the account, even though the check was made out to ‘the estate of…and then my wife’s name. Her name was sitting there right on the joint account. Maybe notifying the bank doesn’t apply where I live.”


 


It is not my goal to advocate anything that is illegal or even just inappropriate. When someone dies, you are up to your elbows in lawyers and questions. It might make sense for you to ask your lawyer what the legalities are for where you live in regard to notifying the bank. According to everyone I spoke to, continuing as you’ve always done with the joint account just makes a very difficult time a bit easier.


 


Ann Novick can be contacted at annnovick@hotmail.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/death-of-a-spouse-part-six-practicalities/2006/10/04/

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