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The Death Penalty

So many things happened to me on the day that Mark died. But within minutes I found out that my financial world had also crumbled.

The funeral home wanted me to pay upfront for his cremation, and I didn't have it. Although we have a small life insurance policy on him that would cover it, they wouldn't wait for it to come in. I don't blame them, I have trust issues too, but it was an awful moment to hit me with that reality. I was lucky, my dad loaned it to me.

But that is the moment when it dawned on me that I might be in trouble. I knew that I had to find out where I stood, but on that day I just didn't care. I'd deal with it later. Later came sooner than expected and I became obsessed.

His monthly disability payment which paid our mortgage was canceled immediately. It appears that payments cease the same month that death occurs. My mortgage was due the following week, and I didn't have time to reorganize my budget to find a way to go forward. Again, I was lucky and Mark's sisters sent money to help with his arrangements. I used it to pay the mortgage. But, I couldn't breathe.

Since I couldn't sleep anyway, I worked, reworked, tweaked, took notes, and reworked my monthly budget again and again over several days. We didn't have any savings and we lived month to month but were very comfortable. I had his life insurance, but what was the best way to use it? Definitely pay down debt, but which ones, since it wouldn't cover all of them? And even with great medical insurance, my out-of-pocket expense bill was coming any day.

I called our bank, which offers free financial services. Thankfully, I have this awesome sense of humor, because he mansplained money to me, you know since I didn't have a husband to explain it anymore. By the sound of his voice and the abbreviated text language of his generation, I'm guessing he was in his late twenties. Being a brilliant woman of 56 and handling our finances longer than he's been alive, I didn't find it helpful. Actually, I feel like he owes me tuition, but I guess the government would waive it anyway.

So, I did what any self-respecting Southern woman in trouble does, I called my Mama. She's another brilliant woman who recently retired as a department head of a well-known mortgage company. I inhaled her wisdom and called friends, credit card companies, and the IRS. When I was put on hold, I recognized the background music as the Nut Cracker Suite, so I had a premonition this wouldn't go my way. I learned about the snowball thing and other cleverly named methods from the internet and came up with a plan.

It's a good plan, and once his insurance came in, I paid down our debt. I'm left with $215 of his insurance, but under much less debt. Although I have less money coming in, I no longer have the shield of filing married, so the state of Oklahoma and the Federal Government will take a much bigger bite. And they keep their teeth sharpened.

But, I'll keep my house. It's not fair, but where it is written that life is fair? It is what it is. But I have to admit not only have I lost my husband, I feel like I'm being penalized for it as well.

Life is a challenge. I can't change anything about the last month, and I'm not in control of what happens. I accept that. However, I can control how I react to it. I can control how I approach it. I can dig deep and find some humor in the situation. I can keep moving forward. Mark would be proud of me, I can feel it.


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My name is Chris and I am taking a new life journey.

I never expected to have to start again, but life is life.

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