28th October 2016
Most advice tells widows and widowers to get their financial house in order quickly. You’re urged to review your portfolio and make decisions about the management of assets. Ensuring you have access to the funds necessary for survival is critical. However, many other decisions aren’t. If you are grieving the death of a spouse or other close family member, now isn’t always the best time to make changes.
Grief can cloud a person’s judgment. It is challenging to focus, and logical thought processes may not work as effectively. Couple this with possible sleepless nights, poor eating and drinking habits, or aggravated depression and you have a recipe for disaster. And once some of these decisions are made, there is no going back.
Often, self-care is challenging. That leads us to make poor decisions about our health and physical needs. We may eat poorly, too much, or not at all. We may drink alcohol in excess or have trouble stomaching anything, including water. If you already experience mental health issues, the added stress can make symptoms worse. If you can’t properly care for yourself, then making life-changing decisions isn’t wise.
Immediately after a death, it is hard to walk through the family home without feeling some level of pain. This leads people to sell the property because, at the time, they couldn’t imagine staying there with those memories. However, after some time to heal, you may regret the decision. While the memories are initially painful, your perspective may change once you are through most of the grieving process.
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to stay in the house either. You may choose to rent the property to someone else for a year, while you spend that time living as a tenant elsewhere. Then, you can decide if you would rather move back in without the swirling emotions that make it hard to think during the grieving process.
Other standard advice revolves around leaning on your support system for advice before making any large decisions. While this can be helpful, it may compound the issue if your support system is also grieving. For example, if you rely on your sister-in-law for help after the death of your husband, her brother, she may not be better equipped than you are to guide you through major decisions.
Depending on your precise financial situation, certain relatives may also have something to gain by manipulating you during this time. If your spouse owns part of a family business, then there may be ulterior motives behind their advice. Unless there is a will with expressed thoughts on the matter, you may want to delay these decisions as long as possible.
For these situations, a different kind of support system is also important. If you have a financial advisor, consulting with them may help you make sounder decisions. They will also know which decisions have to be done now and what can wait. Additionally, consider working with a grief counselor or other mental health professional. This will give you a safe place to express your frustrations, fears, and sadness to someone who is not currently in the grips of grief themselves and who doesn’t have something to gain from your decisions.