While people everywhere were preparing for the holidays, my children and I were preparing for a funeral. My husband of thirty years had a heart attack on December 14, 2008, passed away on December 23rd, and was buried on the 31st. It was indeed an indelible holiday.
Our problems did not start with his death but with years of unemployment prior to his death. Savings were depleted, bills were unpaid, debts piled high, and doctor visits were postponed indefinitely. He was a proud man and did not want any Government assistance for anything.
Knowing that I couldn't afford the house, we emptied our home and moved to my sister's house after the funeral. We had to leave anything that were too difficult to carry or we could live without. Many things were given away. My sister, her husband, and friends helped with the move. After 2 years with my sister, we were able to move to a place closer to school.
We understand the differences between wants, needs, and likes. Our motto is, if we can live without it, we don't need it. We voted against cable versus internet and land line versus cell phones. Since we don't have cable, we do splurge on entertainment. We have Netflix and watch news on Hulu. We discussed the fact that when a company gives you any kind of package deal, it would still cost more in the end. Our thermostat is never set higher than 65 degrees and usually as low as 58. We use electric blankets (turned off in the morning), sweaters, and long johns if and when necessary.
Our 11th commandment is "don't get sick", so we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. We use bleach for cleaning and vinegar and honey as prophylactics. I have a list of staple foods like milk, bread, eggs, fruits and vegetables, dried beans, and a 50 pound bag of rice that lasts for 3 to 4 months. The simple act of looking at items outside this list is a grave sin. We'd often say, "Can't even afford to look". I find that coupons don't give enough savings for the amount of time spent on clipping, storing, organizing and they are too much trouble to use, so we buy generic.
We have high deductibles on our home, car, and health insurances and we make sure that savings come before anything we like beyond the bare necessities, like ice cream. We use the the internet to learn how to make minor home, car, or computer repairs. We learned to be our own "handy man" or we'd extend minor repairs as much as possible without risking further damage. We limit driving any place with a single destination. Even driving properly saves on gas. Since the children have bus passes for school, they take the bus as much as possible. What I know for sure is, this is a community effort and together we will make it through and we'll be fine.
By Zarah from Lafayette, CO
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First, I'm sorry for your loss, particularly around the holidays. I've been there, and I know that the holidays turn into a reminder of loss. As the years pass, it gets easier. Second, I'm glad that you and your family are finding a way to get through this. Thank you for sharing your story!
A death in the family is never easy, and it's always such a desolate feeling not to be able to do anything about it. We've been there, and my heart goes out to you. To have lost your mate at the most special holiday in our year had to have been the most tragic of circumstances. I am so sorry, Zarah.
I admire you and your children for the way you are living now, and commend you on having raised them with so much common sense that they are willing to work with you. Some people just can't seem to understand what "give" means.
Because of the way you're living now, your children will learn how to be good citizens and stalwart parents themselves.
Your story was well told, and didn't linger on your loss, but I can only imagine what you went through. It had to be very difficult. You are in my prayers.
Zarah, reading your story left me with cold chills and tears in my eyes. My heart goes out to you. You sound like a very strong lady who can get through most anything. God Bless.
Zarah, you so touched my heart! I hope you don't mind but I reprinted your essay on my blog, it was so inspiring and so well written I am sure my readers will enjoy it as much as I did. If you would like to read it here is the link. http://cabinannie.wordpress.com/2011/02/26/1165/ Thank you so much and all the best to you and your family.
Your story is a very sober reminder of how close many of us are to the harsh reality of loss if we don't learn who and what are important in life. I'm so sorry for your loss, and wish you the very best as your family cherishes fond memories while learning how to live frugally. I'm so glad you have the comfort and support of good friends during this new period of your lives; you're an incredible example of strength and love.
This lady has my awe and admiration! She has made her hugely difficult circumstances into a positive way of life for herself and her children, and you can sense that she has tackled the challenge courageously and in the end with relish.
Her story will inspire me when I am down and finding things 'difficult' to remember just what can be done !
I've always felt that losing a child would have to be the most difficult for a mother to face, however, I've been told that to lose your mate is even more difficult. When parents lose a child, they have one another to lean on, but when a mate is lost, you must stand alone and face the future.
I am so blessed that I've not had to face either, but just thinking about it almost breaks my heart. I can only imagine what you've been through, and thank God that you are a good strong woman who realized the most important things at the right time.
Your story is so well-told and is an inspiration to all of us who could one day be in the same position. I only hope if it's me that I can handle it with as much grace, strength and dignity as you have done.
I wish you the best now, and will keep you in my prayers.
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