Don’t Rush Big Decisions: Part 2 of Financial Considerations When You Lose Your Spouse

Updated: Feb 3

When important, momentous, stomach-turning, heart-racing events happen – whether they are good or bad – it affects you deeply. It doesn’t make a difference if it was a thing you’d dreaded or dreamed of for years or if it happened suddenly and unexpectedly. The effects affect your mind and enter into your physical body as well, like an alien spirit or a belt of whiskey. You feel it everywhere inside and wonder if the ramifications of that news are going to hurt your health. There are countless studies on the physical health consequences of emotional upsets, and, anecdotally, it sure seems like that is the case because I can count on a bout of arthritis after an emotional shock.


The death of a spouse is an event that shakes you to your core. In our series on how to manage after the death of a spouse, we’re exploring ten tips from FINRA, a reliable financial source. Today, Tip 2: Only Take Care of the Most Pressing Financial Issues First.


When something big happens, we often feel as if we need to do something big in return. That inclination works in our thinking on Christmas present equivalency, amount of chocolate consumed in response to a bad day, and family back-biting arguments. Tit for tat. So when something as life-changing as the death of a spouse occurs, we tend to feel as if it requires major life changes.


And it may. But none of those life changes need to be made right away. They can wait until your thinking is clearer and the initial gush of emotions has dwindled to a more manageable leak. It may well be that you end up quitting your job, selling your house, and moving across the country to live with your son and his wife and kids. Or that you unload all your investments to open the tea shop you dreamed of owning. Or that you end up making any other drastic change as a result of losing your spouse. Any of those changes may prove to be just right. But just weeks after a death is too soon to know. Wait some amount of time (and there is no right amount! But it’s not within days or a few weeks), and then make the decisions that will help you have a happy life.


We’ll cover FINRA’s tips for widows in the next few articles. Tip 3 is Don't Be Hasty with Big Decisions. Thank you for joining me.


Kathryn Hauer, a Certified Financial Planner ™, adjunct professor, and financial literacy educator has written numerous articles and several books including the "11-Step, DIY, Comprehensive Financial Plan Workbook" and "Financial Advice for Blue Collar America." She works to help clients and readers understand and act on complex financial information to keep them and their money safe. She functions as a strong advocate and guiding light for her clients as they move through murky and unfamiliar financial and career worlds.

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