Updated: Oct 24
Think about some of the things that you want to reinvent in your life. Big or small, it doesn’t matter because it is about you and your needs. Below is a list of categories that you can start to explore. You don’t have to have the answers all at once. What you decide today isn’t permanent. It is your life and you get to reinvent it as many times as you want to.
One of the things that I felt was really helpful was to choose a category and just journal about it. Free write anything that comes to mind as you ponder that category. You may be surprised at what comes up. You many find that you aren’t even writing about the category you though you were going to write about.
I wanted to share a page out of my journal where I was thinking about the new home that I was looking for and how much maintenance I wanted or could handle. The entire entry turned out to be about pools and water. Whatever came up I just wrote about it. As a result, I quit looking for homes with pools, something I was sure I wanted.
Another thing you may notice about this entry is that it is in complete sentences. Even though I seemed to jumble the past, present and future the thoughts are fairly linear otherwise. I have other journal entries that have doodles, little drawings and single words sprinkled into the free writing. There is no wrong way to do this.
Below is a list of categories. These are just suggestions and you may find that there are others you wish to explore. What are there areas of your life that you can reinvent to become the person you want to be after loss? You have other areas to explore? That’s fantastic, go with it and keep discovering yourself.
Write as quickly as you can and put everything that comes to mind on the page. Nobody else will ever see this, it is just an exercise in discovery. You may even want to do the exercise a few times with the same category. You can see in my journal entry that I wasn’t even addressing the category I thought I needed to explore. Time may change the areas that you want to reinvent in your life.
Doing this exercise doesn’t commit you to reinventing anything right now. As I said before, you might want to revisit one of these categories, or a category that you came up with, more than once. When you are ready, choose something that you are confident you can handle and make a commitment to make that one change. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s OK. You tried. Yea, you!!
I've been in real estate for a long time and like most Realtors® my lifestyle dictated who my clients were. Neighbors, friends, family and my husband's colleagues made up the majority of my business. When I became a widow myself, I realized that nobody was serving our community specifically.
After getting my real estate license in Texas, I interviewed firms to see who would support my vision of working 100% with widows. This isn't an easy demographic because we don't connect in the same way that neighbors, friends or family connects. But with the support of my company, @properties | Christie's International Real Estate I moved forward in creating a program that addresses the unique needs of widows.
There are legal and tax nuances that just don't exist with the typical residential sale. It is important to me that any Realtor® working with a widow is knowledgable about these things so that there aren't unnecessary surprises along the way. In addition to knowing the business of widowhood, I believe it is important that anyone working with a woman in our community, has an extraordinary level of empathy. Real estate can be a demanding and ruthless business sometimes and having someone who can negotiate the best deal possible is important.
Just as important is being able to read your emotional state and respond well. We all know it is uncomfortable being a widow or talking about loss. I dealt with a number of Realtors® who ignored any mention of my husband. By the time I finished selling my primary home I was exhausted from the emotional toll it took to get through the process with people who glossed over why I was selling to begin with. You may not want to talk about your spouse or have strangers acknowledge what you are going through. If that's the case, your Realtor® will need to understand your desire.
We can't necessarily teach empathy, but we can certainly make real estate professionals aware that how they interact with you at this time matters. We can make sure they understand that if they are uncomfortable with your loss, they should not represent you. We need them to be uncompromising in protecting your sale, as well as your state of mind.
I read an article in the Dallas Morning News yesterday about a widow in Las Vegas who found herself lonely and isolated, away from her family in Ohio. Her husband had passed away a little less than a year ago and she was overwhelmed by the idea of preparing her home, putting it on the market and selling it. The answer seemed to come in the form of a letter from a company offering to buy her house without having to ever prepare or show it. I can only imagine she was flooded with relief.
The problem came when she met with the representative for the company and using high pressure sales tactics had her sign a sales contract. She soon discovered that her house was worth significantly more than what they offered. She contacted the company to cancel the contract. She believed the deal was dead and went on to sell her house with a professional real estate agent only to show up at closing to discover the high pressure company never cancelled the contract. This effectively stopped the sale of her home causing her an insurmountable amount of stress and the loss of thousands of dollars.
You might wonder how this happened without the widow understanding, but if you've experienced the loss of a spouse, you probably get it. There are times when you can't think, where you can't remember important things or make decision that you would normally make. I was surprised to discover that my husband's birthdate was incorrect on his death certificate. When I contacted the funeral home they explained that I had verified all of the information and confirmed it was correct via an email. I had absolutely no recollection of ever having seen the email. That situation makes me understand completely how this widow functioned (or not) during the contract, negotiation and sale process.
That's why I rely on women to help their friends and connect me with them before they have to make any real estate decisions. Maybe moving isn't even on their radar and that's ok, at least they know that there is someone watching out for them if their situation changes. There are not a lot of resources beyond grief support for widows/widowers. Few people understand the vulnerability of our demographic.
It is that vulnerability that makes me so passionate about working with those who have suffered the loss of a spouse. I can be a warrior and protect my clients, making sure that they are not targeted by unscrupulous people. At the same time, I can understand when emotions change and decisions are questioned. Every step of the way I can let my client know this can be changed, this is a step that's going to be difficult or costly to change and this is a step that cannot be reversed. I'll take on the burden of weeding out shady characters and reminding my clients what to expect every step of the way.