Liverpool University has been good to me in many ways, so it is only right, when they ask me if I would mind being interviewed as part of their research into widowhood, I don’t say no.
Last week, I was interviewed by a student and as ever I found it rather a pleasant experience, which is probably better than paying for therapy.
I very much believe that we should all use our experience to help others and what better place to start than your old school or university. I can’t go back to my old school, as it no longer exists, so Liverpool University will have to put up with me.
In an ideal world, there would be a central database of research projects, that needed guinea pigs or experienced professionals to help fulfil the research.
I was interviewed today, by a student from Liverpool University about some of the aspects of widowhood.
One thing that got me at the time of C’s death, was how professional some organisations and companies were and on the other hand how sloppy some others were.
I was moved to write to The Times, and this is my letter they published on April 16th, 2008.
The paperwork carried out when a relation dies should be standardised across all organisations.
I was widowed last year, and it is only now that I’m starting to get my life together. The response of the various government and local authority departments in handling all the paperwork involved has been very patchy.
Registrars: excellent, very sympathetic and efficient; Work and Pensions: bereavement allowance came through with a few hiccups, but not too difficult; Premium Bonds: system worked but could have been better; council tax: this was reduced automatically on signing a form by St Edmundsbury — totally painless; DVLA: its online systems worked well; winter fuel payment: found difficult to claim and missed it for last year.
The private sector wasn’t that much better, with some companies having people whose sole job appeared to be to deal with bereavement faring much better than those that didn’t. Some wanted death certificates, some accepted faxed copies and others took my word.
We need a lot more joined-up thinking in this important area, as, with nearly a million deaths in the UK every year, it would surely help the bereavement process for those left behind if every company, organisation, government department and authority were automatically notified. After all, if St Edmundsbury can do it here in supposedly sleepy Suffolk, then surely everyone else can.
Since moving to London, I could add a few to both lists, although nothing has been specifically about bereavement. In some ways the biggest surprise has been that the London Borough of Hackney hasn’t made any mistake, that has caused me the slightest bit of inconvenience.
I think that living alone in the cold weather, we have had the last few weeks, has been much worse, than living it with someone. The weather is after all a classic mutual moan and a problem to share. And where do you get cuddles from?
At least if the sun is out, the sun gives you a lovely rub and bathe!
This weather can’t go on much longer. After all Noah only had to put up with just over a year and he had some nice pets to play with! And some awful ones too!
Why has such a simple proposition created so much amount of useless hot hair?
So what right does anybody have to deny anybody happiness?
If we do, we’re following the route of religious nutters, like the Taliban and some Christian and other groups, who deny women a good life.
I would also take civil partnerships further and allow it to any couple, who wanted it. C and I had a pretty good marriage, but at times we wondered, if it would matter, if we hadn’t got married or not. Some couples, who don’t think marriage is for them for various reasons, might prefer a civil partnership to sort out their tax affairs, if one sadly dies. When C died, it saved a fortune in various taxes compared to if we’d just been living together.
There is also the problems of say two widowed sisters or brothers living together for economic and companionship reasons. Should they be allowed a civil partnership to perhaps put their financial affairs on the same basic as any other couple. In C’s work as a family barrister, she came across several cases like this. Often the surviving sibling would be living in a dingy flat on benefit. We owe people a better life and all it would need would be the extension of civil partnerships.
Today it’s five years since my wife, C, died quietly in her sleep. A lot has happened since, what with the death of our youngest son and my stroke, which necessitated my move from Suffolk to London.
But life in those five years hasn’t been all bad and I’ve experienced some wonderful things. I’ve also just found this in Chambers UK, which is a guide to the best lawyers in the UK.
He works with individuals who are prosecuted on suspicion of funding or having an active part in terrorist groups and conspiracies, and is a vocal critic of the implications of broad legislation and law in this area. He is described as ”a great solicitor.”
The person being described is our middle son. C would be immensely proud! Just as I obviously am!
Today is a really bittersweet day!
With all the fuss about gay marriage, it is worth noting who you could marry was different in the past.
One of my ancestors in about 1850 was the progeny of one pair of marriages, where two brothers married two sisters. I’m not sure who, but one of the brothers and one of the sisters, who weren’t married to each other, died, leaving the two surviving parents with several children. They obviously lived together, as the union produced some more brothers and sisters.
But the law at the time, said that marriage was not allowed.
Today, in this rare situation, there would be no problem if the two parents wanted to marry, as the law has changed.
I think that the current position is sensible, but I doubt there have been many cases, where someone has married their sibling’s widow.
Leviticus incidentally has a view.
If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.
That certainly didn’t occur in my ancestor’s case, as there were at least two more children. Genetically, of course, they shared a lot of genes, but they would have been no more inbred than the original children.
There is also the case of two of my mother’s brothers, who married first cousins.
Now that still happens! Although for genetic reasons, I don’t think it is a good idea. It would also be impossible for me, as I have no female first cousins and only ever had one. There is a good discussion on Wikipedia.
Last night, there was a very heated debate on gay marriage on BBC Radio 5. So for those who say it is against the Bible, I say that for reasons of common human decency, the law can and should be changed, just as it was to help those like my Victorian ancestors.
I’m very much with David Cameron’s view, that everybody has the right to a long, happy and fulfilling marriage. I certainly enjoyed my marriage for nearly forty years until my wife died.
Widowhood is not the best of circumstances.
I invested a few hundred dollars to see how the site works.
I’ve now started getting repayments from the loans. This is not surprising in my view, as I used to know someone who organised micro-finance in Malawi and he said repayments were usually made.
So now all the money I’ve had returned has been lent out to others. So my original charity donation has been lent to two different people.
A nice feature of Kiva, is that you can search for people with whom you might have something in common.
I often search for widows, as I know a bit about the loneliness of the predicament. Interestingly, Kiva generally lists both sexes as widows and doesn’t seem to use widower. I think that is good.
One thing about Kiva is that if I recruit a new lender, I get a $25 bonus to lend. This is how they spread the word, but the positive result is more money is lent to the undeveloped world.
He was one of the founders of medical statistics and to quote his Wikipedia bio.
In 1858, he performed a study on the correlation of health and marriage condition, and found that health decreases from the married to the unmarried to the widowed.
The only problem with the study is that it was done 154 years ago. But if he got his statistics right, I suspect his results still hold.
I’m surprised that no-one has invoked William Farr in the argument on gay marriage. After all, the longer we live healthy lives can only be to the good of everybody in the population.
This glib and totally fatuous statement was made by Charlotte Friedman of the Divorce Support Group on BBC Breakfast this morning.
As someone, who lost his wife of forty years and 37-year-old son to cancer in the space of two years, she ought to try widowhood at sixty for a few days.
My wife was a family barrister and I can see her in my mind, laughing at the lady. Probably along, with some of her former colleagues, who have sadly passed away in the last few years.
I remember a tale from a few years back, where someone in Houston, was employing a new secretary. One of those who came for interview,said, that she was a woman, black and Jewish and therefore she ticked three boxes. She got the job, as coincidentally, she was also the best applicant.
So did Augusta choose Connie because she ticked two? The other lady is white and blonde!
I have a feeling that Tiger Woods is not a member!
But then I’m very much in agreement with Groucho Marks on clubs.
I wouldn’t join any club, that would have me as a member.
But then, I’m a member of that dark club called widowhood.
Race, gender and sexual orientation are not restrictions as to membership.