Grief, Growth, and Gratitude

You may have noticed that it has been a long time since I last wrote a blog post. A lot has transpired during that period.

As some of you may know, my wife Marge was diagnosed with cancer (Sarcoma) in early 2019. She underwent multiple surgeries, radiation treatment and chemotherapy for over two years. She always maintained a positive attitude throughout this difficult period. Unfortunately, the cancer was persistent, and she passed away in July of 2021.

The Benefits of Community

As you may be aware, I am very involved in the financial independence community. Along with my own family, this community, of which I consider extended family, has been and continues to be very supportive.

The CampFI Community

Shortly after Marge passed away, I was encouraged to attend a CampFI event in Minnesota where my friend Amberly Grant was giving a presentation. As I had experienced at my one and only previous CampFI event, I met many new people I now call friends.

Subsequently, over the past year, I attended three more CampFI events (California, Florida, and Colorado) as well as the EconoME Conference (Cincinnati, Ohio) where many people in the financial independence community gathered.

In fact, at the last CampFI event I attended in Colorado Springs, my daughter also joined me – it was her first CampFI event. It was truly an honor for us to speak at that event. Discussing our financial independence story with this community was very helpful during this natural grieving process and greatly helped me grow further as an individual.

The FinTalks Community

In the past two years, I have also been part of another community that Amberly Grant organized called FinTalks. We meet up virtually every week and obviously talk about various financial topics, but also numerous other non-financial subjects. Many of us have met up in person at various events and locations and even have an annual in-person group meetup in Denver, Colorado.

Amberly, Monique Smaby and I were recently interviewed by Doc G on the Earn & Invest podcast about FinTalks. He likened it to the sitcom Cheers – such an appropriate comparison!

The Rock Retirement Club

During this time, I have also been highly involved in another group – The Rock Retirement Club formed by Roger Whitney, the host of the Retirement Answer Man podcast. This group of fantastic individuals, mostly at or near retirement, have also been hugely supportive during this time.

A couple of us in this group, being CampFI alumni, have persuaded a few other RRC members to attend their first CampFI event in Minnesota later this month. (We are surreptitiously weaving all of these groups together into one large community / family.)

The Universe Acts in Mysterious Ways

Doc G, aka Jordan Grumet, coincidentally just released his first book entitled Taking Stock – A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth, and Living a Regret Free Life. Given my recent circumstances, it was quite timely for me. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Under the category of it’s a small world, Jordan was one of the first people I met at that CampFI in Minnesota shortly after Marge passed. I can’t imagine a better person to have become friends with at that moment in time.

As fate would have it, he just interviewed me again for his podcast to discuss the importance of living a life of balance while on the path to financial independence, especially in light of what I had just experienced – losing a spouse at such an early age and shortly after retirement.

An Unfamiliar Path

I now have a new and unexpected path to walk without my wife, best friend, and partner accompanying me. It will be a time of growth, reflection, and introspection.

I am so grateful for the family and friends that have supported me and my daughter throughout this period.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, financial independence isn’t about the money or the goal of retirement. I now realize there is an enormous additional benefit – this community of like-minded people that truly help each other in ways well beyond getting better at finances.

Thank you each and every one of you!