“Life After : Loss of a Spouse” Helps Families Prepare for the Inevitable

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Panelists at the “Life After: Loss of a Spouse) included Ranvir “Biki” Mohindra (SOS), Kumari Susarla (IACAN), Tupil Narasiman (IACCGH) and Andrew Hardwick (Social Security Administration).

HOUSTON: Losing a spouse can be one of the most difficult times in one’s life. To make this transition a bit easier, it is helpful to know what needs to be done in advance and to understand the process for moving forward. With this goal in mind, India House, Share Our Secrets (SOS), Indian American Cancer Network (IACAN) and the Indo American Chamber of Commerce (IACCGH) hosted a panel session “Life After: Loss of a Spouse” on Sunday, July 8, 2018, at India House, with a record audience of over 200 people.

Due to popular demand, this was the second time that the four organizations conducted a program on this topic, and it was just as successful as the first seminar conducted in October 2017. India House and SOS have now entered into a strategic relationship to bring more such educational seminars to the community in collaboration with subject matter experts and other community organizations.

The two-hour program was full of practical tips and steps for spouses to take before the passing of a spouse, right after the death of a spouse, and also on how to transition to a new lifestyle. The program hosted a panel of speakers from different backgrounds and was emceed by Dr. Anu Rao, ex-member IACAN Board.

First, Kumari Susarla, former president of IACAN, spoke on her experience after losing her husband. She was appreciative of the steps her husband took before his death such as preparing a spreadsheet to monitor financial status, setting up automatic bill pay and becoming familiar with logging into various bank accounts and investment accounts. Next, Andrew Hardwick from the Social Security Administration informed the audience of Social Security spousal and survivor benefits.

Tupil Narasiman, CPA and member of IACCGH, followed Mr. Hardwick and laid out the steps people can take yesterday, today, and tomorrow to prepare financially for this major life event, e.g., having proper estate planning documents, listing out all assets and liabilities.

The “Life After: Loss of a Spouse” seminar attracted a record audience at India House. Additional seminars on such educational topics are in the pipeline at India House.

The “Life After: Loss of a Spouse” seminar attracted a record audience at India House. Additional seminars on such educational topics are in the pipeline at India House.

In conclusion, Biki Mohindra, SOS founder, advised the group on practical steps in six areas: daily routine, financial matters, governmental issues (taxes), insurance, emotional issues, and health issues. As Mr. Mohindra mentioned from seeing his mother’s experience, losing a spouse can be very difficult, but it is possible to make a healthy adjustment, if one has a positive outlook. The program ended with a lively Q&A session and introduction of upcoming programs.

Given the success of such programs, SOS is working with other community organizations to organize additional educational events specifically for seniors similar to the “Loss of a Spouse” event, on various aspects of  “Life After” major events. Many of these issues are not taught at a university or through a college curriculum. For example, seminar topics could include financial literacy (social security, investing, and estate planning), health issues (planning for long-term care, medicare, etc.), and other topics important to seniors (staying connected with the next generation, charity and volunteering, etc). SOS is also planning to create new and thoughtful structures and groups for widows and widowers to help them to lead a full and fruitful life after the loss of a spouse.

SOS hopes to play the role of a catalyst and educational agency for future such events with India House as the focal point.

 Organizations and community members interested in providing input on possible topics, and participating or helping with planning/organizing these efforts are encouraged to contact Atma Ram (atma.ram1@gmail.com) or Mani Subramanian kohur@aol.com.

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