About

Widowed Community Education & Support Services (WCESS) was founded by Jim Schwartz, a Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner and financial advisor who realized that nearly half his clients were widowed and few had spoken of attending grief support groups or working with professional bereavement counselors. When trying to find local resources for his clients who recently lost a spouse or partner, Jim realized there might be a need for local peer-to-peer grief support groups and financial education.

Jim’s research into the needs of the widowed community started with the reading of two books of almost identical titles. The first book, Widow to Widow: How the Bereaved Help Each Other, is authored by Dr. Phyllis R. Silverman, researcher and teacher. Dr. Silverman’s research in understanding how the bereaved help each other led to her development of the peer-to-peer model for grief support groups. Her books and bio are found at her website: www.phyllisrsilverman.com.

The second book, Widow to Widow: Thoughtful, Practical Ideas for Rebuilding Your Life, was authored by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg, a counselor in Tucson. Genevieve lost her husband in 1977 and decided to start a peer-to-peer grief support group. Her group grew into many groups in Tucson. In 1989 Genevieve passed away but her network of grief support groups is still operating in Tucson today.

In October 2010, the current president of the Tucson grief support groups network helped Jim start the first widowed-to-widowed grief support group in Tempe, Arizona, part of the Phoenix metropolitan area. A second widowed-to-widowed grief support group is now open in Sun City West. These support groups are organized through our page on Meetup.com. More details on these support groups are available on the Grief Support Groups page of this website.

Jim’s second initiative is the financial blog. Years of working with and advising widows, widowers, and surviving partners has provided a wealth of experience and knowledge in this complicated financial arena. The blog will regularly provide stories and experiences around the financial aspects of losing a spouse or partner and the transition to managing these financial affairs.

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Financial Tools


Financial Challenges Facing a Bereaved Spouse or Partner (1605)

This FREE eBook is an assembly of real-life stories of bereaved spouses facing various financial challenges including pressure from family members, failure to take care of critical issues during the first year, and not doing the proper level of financial, legal, and tax planning, all resulting in a loss of or reduction in financial security.

Flyer for the Financial Challenges eBook and First Year Checklist (1085)

This flyer describes the eBook, “Financial Challenges Facing a Bereaved Spouse or Partner” and also includes an important checklist on the back which challenges the common wisdom of “Don’t make any changes for a year.” Highlighting potential financial, tax, and legal issues that may need addressed during the first year, this checklist and the eBook are very valuable resources. The checklist on this flyer is a great tool to give to your bereaved clients.


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Starter Kit

WCESS has assembled a FREE Starter Kit for anyone wanting to start their own Widowed-to-Widowed Grief Support Group. The Starter Kit includes:

  • Facilitator’s Guide – This 40-page Guide provides step by step instructions on how to start a group including where to find meeting space, how to advertise, meeting agenda, ground rules for the group, a list of potential topics for discussion, and much, much more.
  • Sign-in Sheet.
  • Buddy Call List.
  • Flyer example – used to post in public areas or email to anyone.
  • Mission Statement.
  • By-laws – used to establish your nonprofit entity if so desired.
  • Handouts for new members – this handout includes a number of articles dealing with grief, assessing grief, secondary losses, and more.
  • Agenda example – at our Tempe group the facilitator always prepares an agenda for each meeting.

Full Starter Kit and Facilitator’s Guide

For the complete Starter Kit and Facilitator’s Guide we ask for your name and email so we can email you a link to download the Guide. This also allows us to track who downloads the Guide and provide you with notices of Guide updates and other important news.

NOTE #1: Please don’t enter a bogus email address. The link will never get emailed to you and you won’t be able to download the Starter Kit.

NOTE #2: Sometimes the link we email you does not work with certain internet browsers or email systems (we periodically test this link and as of 04/07/2017 it works fine). If the link to download the Starter Kit does not work for you, please email us using the Contact Us page and we will email you the Starter Kit directly.


Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


After downloading the Starter Kit and Facilitator’s Guide, you may want to download the following five documents below that can be customized for your particular group, such as the Buddy Call List or the Flyer. The Full Starter Kit and Facilitator’s Guide contains samples of these same five documents but you cannot edit any of the pages in the Guide, so you may still need these five documents. Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint 2007 were used to create these five documents. If you have an older version of Microsoft PowerPoint you can download a 2007 Viewer (or newer version) from Microsoft’s site which allows you to view 2007 versions with other versions of Office.

NOTE: Some versions of Internet Explorer may download these five files incorrectly as .ZIP files. We highly recommend you use an Internet Browser such as Firefox or Safari which download these files perfectly.

Sample Meeting Agenda (2194)
Blank Sign-In Sheet (1796)
Sample Buddy Call List (2050)
How to Join Our Meetup.com Group (1249)
Sample Flyer to Advertise Group (1825)

For those who only use Internet Explorer, we have Zipped these same five files listed above into one Zipped file below:

Zipped file containing all 5 documents above (1188)

If you want more information on our local grief support groups, please use our Contact Us page.

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