Jo lost Kyle on April 19, 2018. A year later Jo discovered Wings for Widows and decided to reach out to see if they could help. While Jo had to contend with many of the things all widows manage through after the loss of a spouse, Jo had one big concern she needed help with most of all.
Kyle had been ill the past three years. He had esophageal cancer. Some of those years the health insurance covered the bills; other years it did not. Some years he was employed; other years he was too sick to work. Trips to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester were frequent most years. The medical bills began to pile up. Kyle and Jo did everything they could to keep current. Their children even started a GoFundMe page. But the cost of care quickly outpaced their benefits, salaries, and savings, including all their retirement savings. Everything was gone.
And then Kyle was gone.
Jo’s biggest concern was the outstanding Mayo debt, nearing $230,000. She laid awake at night calculating how long it would take to pay down such a high balance. The monstrosity of the bill, along with ultimately losing Kyle, was like adding insult to injury. She decided to apply to Mayo for financial assistance and thought she should attach a letter explaining her predicament. She spent weeks on the letter but was still unhappy with it. She needed help. And quickly.
Jo met with her Wings for Widows’ financial coach, Chris Bentley, for the first time a few days later. She shared her financial situation with Chris and provided him a copy of her four-page letter. Chris agreed to review the letter.
He responded to her the next day. “I told Jo that her letter explained her situation very well, but it might be too long. I was afraid nobody would read all four pages,” Chris said later. “Her letter made my angry; what she and her family had to endure the last three years was so unfair.”
Chris offered to revise the letter and hoped his one-page version would appeal to the hearts and minds of the billing department at Mayo. He emailed the revised letter to Jo on May 3rd and she submitted her aid packet and Chris’ letter to Mayo. All she could do now was wait.
Chris continued to coach Jo over the next two months. With the financial aid packet out of the way, she was able to focus on all the other things demanding her attention. She was making progress and her confidence was returning. She missed Kyle terribly, but believed her future held promise. She was going to be okay.
On August 12th, Jo received a letter from the Mayo Charity Foundation. They had agreed to reduce her bill to just $18,000. In an email she sent to Wings for Widows, an ecstatic Jo wrote, “I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your assistance in helping me to write the letter to them explaining my situation. And …assuring me I was on the right track with closing out my husband’s estate and helping me with items that I may have, and did, miss. And for helping me to get on the right track moving forward with my own finances. I know it took me a long time to reach out for help – but I sure am glad I found you!”
Epilogue. Jo joined Wings for Widows as a widow advocate volunteer in 2020 in the hopes that she can help other widows through their challenging times like she was helped by Wings for Widows.