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.