It's good that I stayed fully aware of our finances during our marriage. I know that many widows (and some widowers) are completely in the dark about their finances when their spouse dies. And given how much work I've gone through to complete the necessary forms, transfers and phone conversations since Tony's death, I can only imagine how much worse it could have been if I hadn't already known so much.
These days, I'm doing finances on my own — definitely not my strongest skill. I can stumble my way through financial statements, slowly and carefully create spreadsheets, laboriously reconcile bank statements and schedule bill payments.
On those days when I'm feeling at my worst — sad, frustrated, unenergetic — the financial tasks are still there waiting for me. Truly, I'd rather just stay in bed and pull the covers over my head.
So, back to the dreaded taxes.
I called my husband the "Mad Shredder." Pay a bill, shred it. Reconcile a bank statement, shred it. Reconcile a credit card statement (you guessed it), shred it. I completely understood his reasoning. He'd confirmed everything was accurate (no surprise since he checked them every day) and he could look at the same information anytime on the computer. So why keep all that paper?
I'm the "Mad Filer." I keep everything. Every receipt, every statement, every record — because if I want to check something, I prefer the physical paper.
While getting everything ready for the accountant this year, I apologized to the many trees who gave their lives for the reams of paper I used to print out all the previous records. The accountant finally finished the tax preparation yesterday, and today I'm feeling melancholy. What a surprise! I'd been so careful to prepare for all the dreaded "firsts."
I made it through the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. For each one, I had friends and family in place to spend time with. I thought about how I might feel as the holiday approached, wrote down my thoughts, talked to friends and family, made plans ahead of time, etc. And even with all this preparation I still felt pretty horrible.
The last thing on my mind was the need to be prepared for grieving around the "first" tax preparation.
So, today I'm feeling weary, a bit lost, a little off. I'm learning that these feelings are normal and will continue as long as they need to, and that surprises like these are yet another part of the grieving process.