The unpredictability of life can sometimes leave us feeling overwhelmed with grief. For some, that may be a monetary change brought about by the loss of a job or significant financial setback. While others may deal with the loss of a spouse or family member—which, according to the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory is one of the most stressful events you can experience in a lifetime.¹
No matter what the reason is for your grief, we understand that it hurts. Grief is not a one-size fits all emotion, nor does it look the same for everyone. Being prepared financially can allow you, or your loved ones, to focus on the process of grieving without having to focus on major financial decisions.
Opening Up the Lines of Communication
Experiencing grief and the rollercoaster of emotions that come with it will be a unique ride for everyone. Reaching out for help when facing the range of emotions and challenges that come while processing grief is an essential part of the healing journey. Consider asking a friend for small favors like calling to check in on you or helping with some of the other day-to-day tasks that can feel overwhelming during this time. When it comes to finances and managing your financial wellness, seeking help from your financial professional can help shift weight of stress off your shoulders while providing you with sound financial guidance and actionable preparation steps for the future.
Resources for Grieving Children
Grief affects everyone differently, including children. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “children between five and nine begin to think more like adults about death, yet they still believe it will never happen to them or anyone they know.”⁴ How children process grief depends significantly on their age, general coping style and level of understanding—anger, fear, sadness, and withdrawal from are just some of the typical reactions that children may experience, and giving them the freedom to grieve is a necessary step in moving forward. Group therapy and mental health professionals can both help in having honest conversations about loss and death with your family, which experts believe occurs six to eight months after the initial shock of loss diminishes. ⁵
Navigating Grief as a Widow(er)
A lack of financial confidence, coupled with dealing with the loss of your spouse, can undoubtedly overwhelm grieving widows and cloud their decision-making process. It’s why experts agree that spouses who plan and set up financial protections ahead of time take the burden off their loved ones in the event of death.
Additionally, despite more women in the workforce than men, research indicates that when it comes to finances at home, men are often the ones handling 401(k)’s and brokerage accounts.⁶ Reaching out to your financial professional can help take off some of the burden by helping you map out steps you can take now to make things easier. They can guide you toward the best course of action for your finances as an individual, and allow you to focus on the importance of handling your grief.
Moving Beyond the Five Stages of Grief
While Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ famed book On Death and Dying is frequently cited for its five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—that people may feel when it comes to death as being a linear process, psychologists today no longer believe that to be true.³ Experiencing grief is highly individualistic, and it’s often commonplace for two or more stages to overlap. Knowing and accepting that grieving is a natural process for dealing with loss is the first step in the cure for grief.
Meet Yourself Where You Are
Remember that it’s perfectly okay to allow yourself to feel all of the emotions you’re experiencing after an impactful loss or suffering in your life. Grief impacts us all differently, and seeking the advice of professionals—whether they be financial professionals or mental health experts—can help to mitigate the adverse effects this arduous period can bring.
2020-104777 Exp. 7/2022. SOURCES:
¹ Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS)
² Avoid Making Big Decisions After Experiencing a Death, Verywell Mind
³ Beyond the Five Stages of Grief, Harvard Health Publishing
⁴ Grief and Children, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
⁵ When Children Grieve, Psychology Today
⁶ Widows: Manage Your Grief, Finances, Center for Retirement Research at Boston College