Monday, March 31, 2014

A Reflection on Loss and Grief

I have been up quite a while this morning.  Working on lesson plans that need to be posted.  Realizing I need to make sure I have a sub coming in for me - possible snafu.  Worrying about friends.

One of the lessons I have been working on is the Earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco.  So many things came out of that devastation.  It was the first Earthquake disaster to be  photographed.  I read that it is one of the most important quakes because of the scientific information that came out of it.

I compare that to our own individual disasters.  Many people do not realize the scope of problems until it happens to someone close.  Many older women did not have careers outside the home.  These women are often totally dependent on Social Security.  Lets pick a number from the sky - lets say the husband gets $2000 dollars a month.  The wife would draw about $900-$1,000 depending on variables.  Many women are unaware that if the husband dies first they will continue receiving the $900.  This is a loss of 2/3 of the income that had been coming into the home.

Did you know that if a person goes into some hospice homes or a nursing home the institution receives all but $50.00 of the person's social security check?  Many times family members must also contribute more money to pay for this care. I didn't know that the spouse can be required to contribute additional money from their social security.  I was under the impression that our laws had changed to protect the surviving partner from financial devastation.

There is a small amount of money known as the Social Security death benefit $250 that was set up to help with burial costs.  It is only paid if there is a surviving spouse or dependent children under the age of 18. This amount of money has not changed since the 1970s.  If the couple is not legally married this money is not paid. 

For many couples not only do they lose their life-mate but often their homes, their independence and their pets.  Health and a change in finances are big factors.  Some of these families have pets that can not go with them to their new residence (nursing homes, relatives, etc).  This compounds the loss and grief that the survivor experiences.

For many older Americans, Social Security is their only income.  In the midst of grieving they are pummeled by each new loss.  Now the dominoes start to fall as we wonder why many elders are living in poverty.

How do you figure the cost of death? 


  1. It's not! I understand care is expensive. But it should not leave people penniless.

  2. It is unreal how much people have to fork over in order to receive care and a proper burial at the end of their life. Thanks for calling attention to this today.

  3. I do know all this. Another part is that women can apply for spousal benefits before their own ss application if they want (or can) delay. Their husband needs to have SS, & they need to be of SS age. This isn't widely advertised because the gov. doesn't want people to know. So hard for some people. I'm glad you shared, Ruth. Is this touching you, or a friend?

  4. StorykeeperferrisMarch 31, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    A friend. She is already on Social Security with health issues. The options are limited.


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