September 2013 IssueVol 5, Issue 3


I Did Not Know 

What To Say  


 Dear (Contact First Name),

WELCOME EVERYONE! We are grateful that you have chosen to be a part of our online community.  


Featured Article: The Wrong Widow by Renée Henning explores how a widow can be taken advantage of and exploited legally and financially after the death of her spouse. If you are a widow or are a friend of someone that has recently become a widow, it is important to know that there are resources and support available.

For additional resources on how to support someone that has lost a spouse, please visit our website - Loss of a Spouse.


Be sure to also join us on Facebook and Twitter for resources and on-going discussions on ways to assist a loved one that is grieving.


Virtual Book Tour...Be sure to check out our Virtual Book Tour which features interviews with authors that have written inspirational books on grief and the healing process. 


Website Updates. We are in the process of creating pages that provide resources for specific types of losses. Please visit our website to see how we are progressing. If you have a resource or story you would like to share, please email us.


Do you have an inspirational story you would like to share? We invite you to submit your inspirational stories, letters that have reached your heart, a favorite quote or poem, an unforgettable outing, or a book that touched your life. We would love to hear from you. 


With Love and Gratitude, 






 The truth is that life is delicious, horrible, charming, frightful, sweet, bitter; and that is everything.

Anatole France

In This Issue
Featured Article - The Wrong Widow
Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts
About Us
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feature Featured Article

By Renée Henning 


           Recent widows and their children are vulnerable.  After losing a spouse, many women are treated poorly.  They need a champion with expertise in estates, contracts, competency, or other legal subjects.  As explained below, this area of law is effectively a wrong widow practice. 


           For centuries numerous people have profited from the death of a colleague, friend, or relative at the expense of the decedent's wife.  Many of the horror stories involve a partnership.  One partner tried to cheat the widow by closing the company, making her half interest virtually worthless.  The next day he opened another company at the same address, with the same employees, and for the same clientele - but under his sole ownership. 


           In a less formal commercial arrangement, a young lawyer referred a matter to another attorney to handle in court.  They were buddies from law school days.  Their arrangement to autumn-foliage-road.jpg share the attorney's fee was not their customary split, because the first lawyer had devoted so much work to the case.  Days later he died suddenly, leaving a wife and two little sons.  Seizing the chance to earn more at the widow's expense, the law school chum tried to revise the deal. 


           Frequently the stories involve greedy relatives.  In one case a dying man was the chief stockholder in a family funeral business.  Millions of dollars were at stake.  For several years after his death, his brothers delayed settling with the widow to force her to accept a pittance for his share.  The woman, increasingly desperate, began showing up daily and sitting quietly in the funeral home.  The police refused to remove her, so the partners asked a judge to issue a restraining order against her. 


The problem of wronged widows is worldwide.  For example, in some African countries a new widow may lose possessions to property-grabbing relatives. 


           A recent example of the treatment of women acting alone concerns a life insurance policy with a death benefit of about $200,000.  In 2004 my husband, Richard Henning, Jr., bought the key-man policy from his law firm during his transition from partner to "of counsel."  Battling cancer, he wanted this additional insurance to help protect our minor children and me. 


           In 2010 my dear husband died while still working for the law firm.  He had been a partner and friend for years with the people with whom I later dealt, Joe and another attorney.  My spouse and Joe had been pals for 35 years.  In 1976 Joe was in our wedding party.  In the 1980s the two men co-founded the firm, and the two families jointly purchased a vacation apartment.  My children called him "Uncle Joe."


           My husband said I was the beneficiary on the insurance policy.  Thus, I was shocked after his death at his employer's claiming the proceeds. 


           I requested a meeting.  It never occurred, leaving all communications in writing.  For several months the two partners avoided telling me if they would keep the money.  They were supposedly unable to decide anything concerning the proceeds.  I suggested they give me the money, as my husband wanted, for the good of our family.  They did not reply. 


           After further work on my part, they announced their decision.  According to the E-mail, I was not designated as the beneficiary of the policy "whether by design, mistake or error."  They ruled out sharing because of a mistake by anyone else, including my husband and the insurance company, despite serious questions about that company's reliability.  In short, both men decided to keep every penny. 


           I made a blunder by pursuing without a lawyer justice for my children, now college students, and me.  Sadly, many people make this mistake.  No wise woman lets her divorcing spouse decide how to split their assets, since the less she gets, the more he keeps.  For the same reason and because business is business, a widow should not let her husband's colleague determine the equitable division of money or property. 


          She may think she cannot afford an attorney.  However, a lawyer can represent her on a contingent fee basis.  He would receive a specified percentage of what he recovers for his client.  She should collect significantly more money with an attorney than without one, even after deducting the legal fee.


          Unfortunately, the widow's adversary has many ways to cast itself as the injured party and her as the wrongdoer in their dispute.  For example, it may lie or may declare itself insulted when no insult was intended.


           A woman representing herself should expect the other side to take offense regardless of whether she presents her case in writing, orally, or silently.  As to written communications, "Uncle Joe" and his partner objected to my "tone."  As to oral communications, the opposing side may accuse the widow of yelling, misunderstanding business, or much worse.  As to the silent vigil discussed above, the surviving partners objected to the very sight of the woman, even seeking an order barring her from the premises.  Therefore, the widow should adopt a fourth approach, i.e., pursue justice through an attorney.


           Many students entered law school wanting to help those in trouble.  They can realize their goal and make money by aiding bereaved women and their children.  In fact, the mere presence of an attorney can make a difference.  It serves as a warning to people hoping to take advantage of a grieving wife - they picked the wrong widow!


© 2011 R. Henning

About Renée Henning


Renée Henning is a retired antitrust attorney and a writer on varied subjects.  Her published work has appeared in books, magazines, newspapers, and newsletters, including in Washington Post, Free Lance-Star, Hudson Herald, Day in the Life of Public Service Lawyers, Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, Ours, Adoptive Families, Adoption Today, News From FAIR, Roots & Wings, International Concerns For Children NewsletterAdoption Option Complete Handbook, 2000-2001, and Living.  Clips are available upon request -



Thoughtful Sympathy Gift Ideas

Sympathy Gifts  


Cup of Comfort Tea Set

Emily's Tea's has joined with author, Marcy Kelly, to introduce a new Cup of Comfort Tea Gift.  Marcy's book From Sorrow to Dancing, is an insightful book that addresses the struggle a woman faces after the loss of a spouse. It gently guides the reader through the steps of grieving so that she can refocus on living and embracing with joy her new reality. The book is packaged in a gift box with a white porcelain vintage look snack set, some Walker's shortbread cookies, Lindt truffles, sugar sticks and a large bag of Emily's soothing tea sachets. A crocheted hanky completes the presentation. When words don't seem adequate, demonstrate your love and support by presenting her with this healing and unique gift.


 Visit our Thoughtful Sympathy Gifts page for a wide variety of sympathy gift ideas for your loved ones. We hope the thoughtful gifts listed on our website inspire you to give warmth and joy to your friends and family in their time of need.


About I Did Not Know What To & Lori Pederson
LoriLori Pederson created I Did Not Know What To Say in April 2009 as a platform to inspire and provide resources to people that wanted to help their friends and family through the grieving process. 
Lori's expertise comes from those experiences that only life can provide.  Over the past twenty years, Lori has lost many family members, including her mother to ovarian cancer, as well as many friends, colleagues and pets.  She is no stranger to loss and the grieving process.
Throughout her life she has been blessed with many friends and relatives that were there for her as she experienced these great losses. She understands that although people want to help, they often don't know where to start.  I Did Not Know What To was created out of Lori's desire to assist people find the words when they don't know what to say or do.
You can learn more about Lori and her organization by visiting, reading her personal Blog or contacting her at:
Lori Pederson

Each week we will be adding new inspirational stories and resources to our website and Blog.  Help us reach our goal of providing inspiration and insight to the world by sharing your story or resource with our online community.  We would love to hear from you! 
Share Your Story. Please email us your inspirational stories, letters/cards that have reached your heart, a favorite quote, an unforgettable adventure, a thoughtful gift idea, a book that touched your life, or a suggestion for our website or newsletter to 

If you are an author or expert in the field of grief recovery, we would love to interview you for our Blog and/or one of our upcoming newsletters.

If you have a website, Blog or newsletter, we ask that you consider including our information on your site.  Here is the link:   

I Did Not Know What To Say is a website created to inspire and provide you with tools to assist a love one through the grieving process.

With Love & Gratitude,


Founder, I Did Not Know What To Say

Copyright 2013' I Did Not Know What To Say(TM) Newsletter.  All Rights Reserved.