Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Death and Taxes ......

...... are both pretty sure things.
Both pretty stressful things.
Both beyond stressful when they come on the heels of each other, as they did for me, when Jim died.

He died at the end of the year.
Within a couple of weeks the tax stuff started rolling in.

Now that might not be stressful for many people ..... even many of you.
But for me, whose husband was a CPA and had chosen to "handle" all (and I mean ALL) of the bills, the taxes, the filling out of all of them and the writing of checks for all of them, seeing those first few income tax forms come in made my eyes blur, my stomach hurt, my heart pound, and my breathing charge into full-blown hyperventilate-mode.

And even though I have an accountant now to help get things done, my reaction is pretty much the same when the first of the year rolls around and brings tax materials into my mailbox.

I have often wondered why I still feel anxious at this time of the year ...... at the sight of all things tax-related.

Why do I panic at the thought of what item I may forget to turn in, or some piece of paper that I can't find?
And cry.

It took me sitting down to write this post to figure it out.
It really has nothing to do with my taxes (other than the normal amount of "uck" they give everyone).

It has everything to do with the fact that Jim's not here.

He's not here to fill out these endless forms.
He's not here to tell me not to worry.
He's not here at the end of each day.
He's not here to hug me when I need it (and boy, do I need it!).
He's not here for our kids.
He's just ...... not here.

Not in January.
Or May.
Or at Christmas.

The time of the year isn't as important as this one fact:

So while I may slowly get used to the sight of all things tax-related ...... they will always serve to remind me, every damn January, of something I really, REALLY don't need to be reminded of:

Jim is not here.

Thank you very much, IRS.
I'm sure I would've totally forgotten if not for you.


  1. Oh Janine, you bring to mind a memory as we drove home from the hospital after my Marty's sudden death on 2-15-11. I am self employed and he too handled all our taxes, all my business stuff, I didn't have a clue. But more importantly I was very unorganized and never had all the papers in the same place at the same time and he would have to go and research and look up and print my old company bank statements etc etc etc. Tax time was always a wee bit stressful because I did such a poor job of record keeping. My husband was a saint.
    But as we drove home from the hospital I had a freak out moment and said to my adult daughter, "Oh my gosh, who is going to do the taxes?" She nicely said, "Mom I'm sure Gregg (our financial guy) has an accountant who will be able to handle that." To which I replied, "No you don't understand, I don't have a clue, I don't know where the forms are, or the receipts or anything, oh my gosh...."
    Well, truth be told the financial guy did have an accountant. And also truthfully, I gathered all the "papers" I had, put them in a plastic grocery sack and carried them into him and laughed and said, "Good Luck." No kidding. I was a mess. Tax day was only 8 weeks after he died. Fortunately, I did know where the previous years taxes were and that proved to be very helpful. So we made it through, until......
    Last year, I missed the part about having to pay taxes the IRS sent me a big fine, etc etc. My finance guy composed me a letter to sign explaining my circumstances and believe it or not, the fine was waived and the taxes were paid. So thankful. And this year, I got it right and paid them quarterly. You are right, its an awful reminder to not have our personal "tax guy" right here where we need him. Thank you for the post.

  2. Janine, nine years later and I still hate it -- writing the checks for bills, getting tax stuff together, dealing with endless paperwork, etc., etc., etc. -- all the things that George did, not because I couldn't but because he wanted to and I did not mind. I too am getting that "yuck" feeling as I prepare to gather the tax stuff. I miss my guy, still! Sigh!

  3. I have no clue what to do...none! It scares me to death! I too have been very unorganized and an regretting that so much! I tried to keep things organized at first, but after about a month, just didn't/couldn't do it anymore. I hope that changes, but truthfully, I don't see it happening. You gotta care before that happens... and I.Just.Don't.Care!!!!

    1. You are right! I remember in my early grief, my mom trying to be helpful and she began to talk about my needing to want to address all the "piles" of paperwork around my house. I remember telling her, "Mom I don't care if those piles stay there forever." She in her lets never acknowledge a bad feeling style said, "Oh yes you do, you care!" To which I said and meant it, "No I really don't" and went to bed. Now in my 23rd month, the piles still sit. Some stuff has improved and other stuff has not. I don't have my head on straight. This is not my strength area and I have too many things that are now my responsibility. I try to extend Grace to myself continually that I am doing the best I can and over time, I will become more adept at these things and come up with my own systems, even if I don't ever like them. You are right, you just don't care. And that is understandable. For a long time I didn't care if I lived or died, other than my adult children losing both their mom and dad; I was not suicidal, death has just lost it fear factor; I'm still not real concerned about dying and am not gripping onto life like I did when we were together on earth, but lately I find that I am not wishing to die soon. I don't know if that is helpful or not. It helps me to focus on that which is most important and do it. And many days thats as good as it gets.

    2. Debbie ... and Mjay,
      You are not expected to care. At least not here. It took me a very long time to care. And yes, I, too, lost any fear of death that I once had. I still don't fear it ... at all. I don't yearn for it as I did in the first year or so, but when it happens, it happens. I've had a pretty great life, all in all, outside of losing Jim. Until then, I'm going to keep making the most of it, as much as I can. You will one day want that for yourself, too. Not today ...... not tomorrow. But one day.
      Until then, as Mjay so beautifully put it, extend Grace to yourself. Let the piles sit. Nothing disastrous will happen. You can get to them when you're ready. And if you can, ask a friend to help ...... when you're ready.
      Until then keep breathing. In and out. One breath, one second, one day at a time. No more.
      And keep coming here. Because we care.
      We'll hope for you until you can.

  4. Thank you ladies for your insight...I just lost my husband this past May and I am in a mess as well. I really don't care, I really do not fear death and just wish it would come. Your postings give me hope that I am not losing my mind, and yes MJay...I do need to extend to myself Grace...I am tired, I have so much to do and no support from family. We did not have children so I rely on my friends..which is hard to do...I will keep trying to breathe in and out..but some days..even that is a major effort.

    1. BR,
      I understand about not fearing death - neither do I. I used to cling to life desperately....for my first 18 months after he died, I didn't care; when others would try to encourage me in my sadness, "you will be reunited with your husband in heaven, you will see him again", little did they know that was what I was wishing for and so many days, inside said, "take me now God." The pain is so so deep. So suffocating. I have been surprised at how deep pain can really be. I too, like you, am tired. I'm tired a lot. I understand about breathing and how even it is hard some often feels like one wave after another comes and knocks me over and I am back to drowning beneath the water unable to breathe. Just know that you are breathing. Sometimes one breath at a time, and that is okay. Its an awful way to live, wishing nighttime would come so you can go to bed.
      Very early in my grief, a friend of Marty's offered me, "Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is tie up your shoes and keep walking." Many days, that kept me going - because I did tie my shoes - maybe nothing else that was purposeful, but I did tie my shoes and walked in one direction or another.
      Go easy. One day, one hour, one minute at a time.

  5. I lost my husband in August and he handled all the bills and taxes, I would just have to sign my name on the dotted line.

    I've never been good at keeping track of papers, thank George that I have the first 6 or 7 months of these things in a drawer... and I have dear friends that are CPA's that said they would do my taxes this year.

    I have been able to get the household bills paid monthly before they are due! so I know I can do this, I just have to get my tail in gear and create the space...

  6. I'm really glad I found this posting, I really needed to see it today. My husband passed away suddenly on May 10, 2012 from an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism (blood clot). I lost my husband, our two daughters (then ages 19 & 15) lost their father, and I had to deal with unexpected financial items. It's been over a year since he passed away and I am still dealing with these items. I realized I have not been able to grieve, mourn, and begin my healing journey because of all the constant worrying of having to "find papers, sign forms, pay bills..." I finally had to get a friend who is a CPA involved and hope to resolve it soon.