What I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Widow

Terri Spath |

A neighbor sent me this recently and I am publishing it, with his permission (but anonymously). Additionally, I added 3 guideposts for how to navigate and protect your financial life, if you find yourself in this position. The post is longer than normal, but I didn't want to edit it. It's straight from the heart.


What I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Widow (anonymous)

Losing a spouse is one of the most devastating and lonely experience. The pain can be overwhelming, and the grief can consume every aspect of your life. 

It is hard. It just is. The initial shock and pain are unbearable, and it can feel like there's no end to the sadness. Simple tasks that were once easy can become difficult, and the weight of grief can feel like a physical burden. The mind sometimes just doesn't work. It's important to allow yourself to feel the pain. This will take time. Allow that.

It may be awkward with friends. People may not know what to say or how to act around you, and it can feel isolating. Some may avoid you altogether, while others may offer empty platitudes that do little to ease your pain. It's okay to tell people what you need, whether it's space or someone to talk to.

It may not feel like it right now, but it is important to know that it does get better. It will. Not now, but it will. It may feel like the pain will never go away, but over time, the intensity will lessen. Healing is a slow and nonlinear process, but there will come a day when you can think about your loved one with a smile instead of tears.

Everyone grieves differently. Some may want to talk about their loss, while others may prefer to keep their feelings to themselves. There's no right or wrong way to grieve, and it's important to honor your own process. 

Finally, take care of yourself. Grief can take a toll on your physical and mental health, and it's crucial to prioritize self-care. This includes getting enough sleep and exercise, and finding ways to manage stress.

You are not alone. Take it one day at a time, be kind to yourself, and know that you will get through this.


Three Guideposts to Follow to Navigate and Protect Your Financial Life at this Vulnerable Time (Terri Spath, CFP®, CFA)

In addition to the emotional toll of losing a spouse, recent widows may also face financial challenges. It can be overwhelming to navigate finances during such a difficult time, so here are three financial guideposts to follow:

1. Don't rush into major financial decisions: After losing a spouse, it's important to take time to grieve and adjust to your new normal before making any major financial decisions. Avoid making any hasty decisions, such as selling a home or making large investments, until you have had time to fully assess your financial situation and goals and your head and heart are more recovered.

2. Don't become an ATM for others: Unfortunately, some people may see a recent widow as an opportunity to ask for financial help. While it's important to be compassionate and supportive of loved ones in need, it's also important to prioritize your own financial stability. Don't be afraid to say no if you're not comfortable with a financial request.

3. Only work with a fee-only advisor with the CFP® certification AND a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential: Finding a financial advisor who has your best interests in mind is crucial, especially during a vulnerable time. Look for a fee-only advisor who does not earn commissions from selling financial products and who has the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certification and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) credential. These designations indicate a high level of expertise and ethical standards in financial planning and investment management.

Keeping these financial guideposts in mind, recent widows can navigate the complexities of managing finances after loss and move forward with confidence in their financial future.

Waves happen. We understand.