Former Twin Cities news anchor Pat Miles to visit Alexandria to discuss new book about widowhood
The book includes topics like bank account and alcohol dependency.
ALEXANDRIA — It might be odd to call a book about death a page turner, but former Twin Cities news anchor Pat Miles Zimmerman has written such a book.
Miles Zimmerman, who lost her husband in 2019, has just published "Before All is Said and Done," and will discuss it during "An Evening with Pat Miles," from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Carlos Creek Winery north of Alexandria. The event is free and organized by Cherry Street Books.
Interlaced with personal stories, interviews with widows, and advice from experts, "Before All is Said and Done: Practical Advice on Living and Dying Well" with co-author Suzanne Watson makes a compelling argument that we all need to make preparations for death while we are still healthy.
It's a hard sell. Miles Zimmerman knows that.
"Before Bucky died, you couldn't drag me to an event like this," she said. Death and dying were simply not on her mind while she and her husband, Bucky Zimmerman, were busy living a vibrant life.
If it had been on her mind, she might have gotten Bucky's iPhone password so she could retrieve family vacation photos that are now lost to her. Bucky might have clarified his financial dealings with the law firm he founded so that she would actually gotten steady paychecks after his death. Instead, his business partners said she wasn't entitled to any payments as Bucky had died before he retired.
Widows and widowers make up 7.1% of the population in Douglas County, or about 2,200 people, according to U.S. Census data, a bit higher than the state's 4.8% average. Miles Zimmerman's book delves into their unique circumstances; the needs of military widows differ from those of law enforcement widows, for instance. Widows with stepchildren will likely face different challenges than those without blended families.
Miles Zimmerman offers a candid look into her own missteps and struggle to find trustworthy advice and deal with grief after her husband died of pancreatic cancer.
“I considered myself extremely independent and fairly sophisticated,” she said. “I got so mad at myself!"
The book advice on financial planning and letting one's wishes be known, a segment on death doulas that tend to the emotional and spiritual aspects of death, and a chapter on how to find meaning after loss.
One chapter deals with a largely hidden social problem — alcoholism among widows.
“I hope more people will speak out about the nexus between widowhood and alcoholism," Miles Zimmerman writes. "It is a problem that is growing and needs to be addressed urgently. The aging of the baby boomers means our society is facing a spike in deaths over the coming years and potentially a concurrent spike in alcoholism.”
"Before All Is Said And Done" is available in print and audio format. She narrates the audio book herself, in the polished, matter-of-fact tone memorable to those who once watched her on WCCO or KARE.
“I don’t care if you're 32 or 82, you might not come home tonight,” she said. “Why not plan, so that what you do leave behind is a much smoother road for the people left behind.”