Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Being a Disqualified Widower

So I’ve finished my taxes for another year. (Stay tuned or scroll down if you’re looking for non-tax-related info.) You’d think that after four years of filing on my own, I’d get used to this. I mean, it’s really the same old pattern. I plug in the information, the computer spits out a number signifying the amount I can expect to receive in a check (okay, so it’s really a direct deposit) and that number is significantly lower each year as inflation rates, gas prices, and the general cost of living seems to be increasing. Not a pretty pattern, but a predictable one at least, right?

Wrong. This year the federal government had a dirty trick up its sleeve.

That’s right. I have now been widowed long enough that I can no longer file as a “Qualifying Widower”. Now, to be fair, I knew this day was coming. But I had forgotten and seeing this reality on the screen before me was unsettling to say the least. Not to mention that my old friend TurboTax tried to tell me I should file as “Single” when it was clearly a better choice to file as “Head of Household”. I’d like to know what gives the federal government the right to decide how long I can be considered a “qualifying widower”. Does being widowed longer than three tax years mean I am somehow a less-qualified widower? If so, that would make me an “unqualified widower”. But I would contend that if anything, I am a more qualified widower. At this point I have endured and learned to handle more than most people who are forty years my senior.

So instead, I’ve decided that the government regards me as a “Disqualified Widower”. I can be a widower as long as I want (or at least until I choose to remarry), but I’m going to have to do it on my own terms, and will warrant no special tax title from the IRS. I’m not unqualified, I’ve just been disqualified as far as the government is concerned. I know it’s all semantics really, but aside from the linguistic aspects, that loss of title cost me about a third of last year’s refund!

Now on to the non-tax-related things I alluded to above:

I spent a couple of days last week sick. I think I’ve mentioned this here before, but it is really scary for a child when his/her single parent gets sick. My daughter has gotten better with the headaches and sinus infections I tend to get (love Spring, hate pollen!), but I took a day and a half off of work last week, which is unheard of for me. I have often said that if I wake up and don’t care if I see my school that day I am really sick (did I mention I took a day and a half off last week?) This time it was food poisoning followed by a headache of almost-migraine proportions. Not fun, but I bounced back quickly. My daughter had a difficult time adjusting to the idea that I wasn’t going to work the first day, but was noticeably more accepting the second day. There was a special event at her school that night, so I came home and rested between and made it a point to be as “up” as I could during the event, which helped, I think. Hmm, I think that sounds like something a “qualified widower” might do, Mr. Government Official…

We managed to make it through another February. For those of you on my FB page (if not, see sidebar) and who are long-time readers, you know that February is the longest month on the calendar for me. It was not an easy month, as I don’t expect it will ever be, but here we are now, more than twenty days on the other side of it. My daughter has become quite the good little writer at the tender age of (now) seven and I am amazed at the times she will write about her feelings and I will find the pages only after she has gone to bed. Thankfully she is also still very willing to voice them, but I fear as she grows older she may turn toward her writing more (which I know is normal, but it eliminates a need for talking to Daddy about it and I will miss that. And yes, now I know how you feel Mom…)

I have often thought that one of the reasons God allowed my daughter to be born in the month of February (five weeks early, but healthy) was to give me something to look forward to during that month. This year was no exception. All of my daughter’s grandparents were able to make the journey for her birthday this year (they are still of the age that work obligations might keep them from coming, rather than health issues). She knew they were coming, unlike years’ past when it has been a surprise, but I don’t think this diminished her joy any. She had a wonderful party and a great weekend with her grandparents. And I think that’s all any parent can hope for, single, widowed, or otherwise.

In keeping with my promise in an earlier post, I wanted to mention that I have started dating someone. I have thus far held to the pattern I used in my last relationship regarding how quickly to progress, how soon to involve my daughter, and things of that nature. The one big difference between this time and last is that my daughter knew the first woman I dated and was able to see the connection we were developing and she was not a part of that this time around (due to where/how we met, not because I tried to do anything differently in that regard). In fact, when I told her we were going out, she finally admitted that the reason she was less-than-thrilled was that she didn’t feel like she knew her (she had only met her once at that point) and wasn’t sure she would like her. I reassured her, but also told her that I would remind her of this in a couple months when she did meet her and DID like her, which I have found myself doing over the past couple weeks. It’s already evident that they like each other. She is a school-based employee as well, though not at my school, and is, as my friends put it, “more age-appropriate” than the last woman I dated. I won’t get all mushy at this point, but I will say that this relationship has definite potential.

Now, for those of you who remember back a couple months to my last post, you might be wondering why I would even entertain the possibility of dating someone when I thought I was dying. It is a valid question. The only reason I opened the door to getting to know her better at all was that I wanted to live as if I wasn’t dying (at least not yet). It was a risky move for this non-risk-taking widower, but it proved to be a good one. I did not ask her out until after I got the news from my doctor that I had a completely manageable condition, but I did spend quite a bit of time getting to know her through e-mails and phone calls. I weighed my options and decided that if I was as sick as I thought I was, she would lose a friend with a mutual romantic interest. But if I wasn’t, then by not getting to know her, we might both be losing the possibility of something long-lasting. I can’t say that it will definitely go that direction. But so far, I’m confident I made the right call.

On Thursday, I am scheduled to have my periodontal work/surgery done (the 31st). It’s not something I’m looking even remotely forward to, but when I still have my own teeth in thirty years I’ll be grateful I did. I’m having all of the work done in one day (12 teeth total – yikes!) so it’ll be all soft foods and pain killers for me for a few days. I’d appreciate any and all prayers as that time draws near – both for me as I endure the procedure and whatever pain it entails and for my daughter as she has to see me endure that pain for a few days. (On the bright side, Grandma is here to play with her and keep me medicated).

Thanks for bearing with all of my “updates” and for your continued reading, no matter how few and far between my posts become.


  1. i hate that the government has taken away your status as a widower. i love and agree with all your statements, but alas, the IRS has no heart.

    i won't say your daughter will grow and turn to her writing more than you, but in my own children, my daughter always, always was an open book. she would, and still does, tell me everything. i think. she seems to. i do not know if it is the difference in personalities or in boys and girls, but my daughter was always very open. my son closed off for a while but in the last 3 - 4 years {he's 25}, and very much so since our Dragon died, he tells me everything again like he did when he was a child. i was just always there for them and offered my ear. i asked questions their whole lives so talking it all out was our custom. i know you probably talk to your daughter this way and i am betting she will continue to be open and communicative with you.

    i love that you are taking risks. what is life if we do not really try to live it, breathe it in, take advantage of every second? dating again. i will keep you in my prayers that this evolves as you wish it to. and of course, i will be thinking of you on Thursday. bless your heart. or your mouth. Grandma's {mom's} are perfect for this kind of help. fussing over you and your daughter. i hope you are not in too much pain afterwards and can enjoy the down time.

    i wish you peace.

  2. I'm glad to know that I was not the only one to disagree with Turbo Tax. I too found myself disqualified this year.

    My Abby is now 20 and still grimaces with concern any time I even think I need to see a doctor. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your daughter.


  3. Interesting post. Since I moved during this past tax year, I had to find me a new person to complete my taxes. I don't have the patience to complete my own. In meeting with my new consultant, I explained that last year I had to file tax returns for myself and my deceased husband. My new tax expert didn't bat an eye, she just turned and offered her condolesence. When it came time to enter my filing status, she naively turned to me to ask if I was going to file as a qualified widower. I smiled at her in appreciation, then had to remind her that the IRS doesn't consider me a widower. So I guess I am the unqualified widower. Nice to meet you. I started to ask what were the benefits of filing as a widower, then decided I'd rather not know. When it came time to complete the state forms, I let her know that thankfully state does recognize me as a qualified widower, so I suppose I'm now considered the local qualified, yet globally unqualified widower. Too confusing? That's what I thought. I looked at her and said, let's just call me the Head of Household, and let it be.

    I'm happy to hear that you are once again dating. I am definitely open to the idea, yet know that I am not ready. I suppose when the time is right, and someone considers me as a qualified date, then I will get back into the game. For now, I'm focusing on increasing my friend base here in San Diego, and trying to get out of the house more often. Actually, I'm only in negotiations to get out of the house right now, as I am not really that invested in the change quite yet.

    I hope your dental work went without a hitch. I'm obviously a bit too late to offer prayers that it goes easily, but I can definitely pray the recovery speeds by.


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  5. This is my last year to file as a qualifying widow. I thought along the same lines: So what am I next year? Just a single?

    I guess the Government thinks that after four years, you just don't need to acknowledge the loss of a spouse anymore. Even though you might never marry again. I agree with you - it's ridiculous.

    Prayers for your dental work. I am SCARED TO DEATH of the dentist. And my appointment is looming... :/

  6. This is my first time reading your blog, but thoroughly enjoyed your post. I am only 6 weeks and 1 day into being a widow...so I wasn't even aware of the fact that there is such a thing as a "qualifying widow" claim. I'll have to keep that in mind next year.
    Hope you made it through your dental work well, and good luck with your lady friend.