Loss is an unavoidable and emotional part of life, and there are few losses more profound than that of a spouse. Being a new widow is overwhelming, whether you were rightly prepared for your partner's passing, or not.
When you're in this limbo of post-loss fog, it can be hard to narrow your focus. Unfortunately, this time of extreme stress is coupled with more paperwork, finances, and phone calls than you thought possible.
These tips for new widows can help you, or a loved one, navigate the emotional and financial turbulence that occurs. Let's get started.
Be Patient With Yourself
We're all our own biggest critics, but this is a time where that internal voice telling you to do better should take the backseat.
Allow yourself time. The grieving process can take just as long as you need it to and people grieve differently.
Be patient if it takes longer to do stuff around the house or at work. It's hard to direct attention when your life feels like it's falling apart.
Find a Fellow New Widow
During this time you will rely on your friends and family a lot, and that's expected! Support systems are there for times just like these.
What your family and friends may not provide is a sense of complete understanding. That's when you can look to support groups or therapy sessions and other ways to connect with new widows. The mutual need for encouragement and reassurance may feel more comfortable to you.
Organize Files and Finances
Finances as a new widow can be extremely tricky. The loss of a loved one coupled with mountains of paperwork and bureaucratic hoops.
After your partner's death make sure that you have all of the necessary files. You'll have to deal with life insurance, wills, estate documents, social security, and changing ownership of possessions.
Budget and Invest
It can be tempting to drown the pain with spending, but we promise you that will not fill the hole in your heart. As much as we wish it could.
If your loved one was in a position to leave you money, make sure it doesn't get spent frivolously. Take the money that you get from life insurance, pension, bank accounts, and invest it. If you do have extra income after their death, make sure to direct it in positive ways.
Your late spouse likely wanted to set you up for financial success and longevity. If you're not positive about how to invest, a financial advisor may be a good first stop.
If you have children, have them deal with some of the official documents and paperwork. When neighbors offer to make meals or help clean, let them. If you're able, hire services to help you navigate the financial aspects of death.
You may feel like it sometimes, but you aren't alone and don't have to take this all on yourself.
Your environment directly impacts your mood. While it may feel good to shut the lights off for weeks and enclose yourself in darkness, it won't help.
Surround yourself with things that make you happy and that uplift you, whether that's friends, art, plants, pictures of your family, whatever!
The first year as a new widow is hard; what an understatement. That feeling in your chest? It will dissipate a bit with time and you will find yourself again.
In the meantime, we are here to help support you in every aspect of regaining control over your financial health. Contact the Financial Center for Women to get started, or check out our new widow checklist today.