Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult experiences life has to offer. Even continuing to take one day at a time seems almost impossible when you’ve lost your partner, your mate, the love of your life. Many people who have lost a spouse describe feeling as though the rug has been pulled out from under their feet; they feel like a child again, having to re-learn how to interact in the world without their other half.
The emotional loss is only part of this confusion, especially if—like most partnerships—you and your spouse ran your household and finances with a division of labor, each partner taking on the responsibilities that they most enjoyed and were most suited to perform… this includes the financial responsibility. The emotional impact of losing a spouse is hard enough, but in today’s complex financial world what do you do if the spouse you’ve lost was the family “Chied Financial Officer” ?
The first and most important step, according to this article from the Chicago Tribune, is organization. Knowing what your bank balance is, what your expenses are, and where important documents are located is absolutely key to getting through the rough patches. The second step—and this one may be the hardest—is taking stock of your new financial situation and adjusting your lifestyle and spending. Losing a portion of your family’s income is a shock, and people often go through the motions of their previous lives because they simply can’t yet face the reality of their loss. In addition, death comes with its own set of expenses which can make a substantial dent in your savings.
If you feel you just don’t have the strength or focus to deal with financial issues immediately following the death of your spouse, ask someone to help you temporarily. Eventually, when the grieving process has run its course, you will surface again; and when that happens you don’t want to find that the life you knew has been buried under debt.