Taking Care of Yourself and Your Finances After Loss
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On June 15, 2015, I lost my husband of 15 years to cancer, it was probably the worst thing that could have ever happened. We had spent our lives together believing we were going to spend eternity together. Our daughter at the time was five years old. We were so excited to raise her, watch her grow and looked forward to growing together as a family. We had big plans and big dreams. 2015 was going to be our 15-year anniversary and we had talked about going to Bora Bora to celebrate, stay on a hut overlooking the beach and just enjoy time as a family. Well, two years prior to 2015 our dreams and goals were put on hold. We were in this world of cancer.
I went from being a wife and a mother, to being a full-time caregiver and pseudo nurse. We spent our days going from doctor’s appointments to scans and tests. Three months after treatment had stopped, we found out the cancer was back, and he was now terminal. They had given him six months to live. This is when the chaos began.
You see were like a typical married couple. When we got married, we shared responsibilities based on our interests. I had been working in the banking industry for awhile and so, when we discussed who would handle our finances, because I deal with other people’s finances all day, the last thing I wanted to do was our own finances. Therefore, he took on managing our finances and I shared with him that it would be good for him to do it just in case something ever happened to me and that I would supervise.
When we got the news that he had only six months to live, we began estate planning. He was 44 and I was 38 and we had never thought about estate planning. Our financial advisor would remind us every year to get a will and an enduring power of attorney done, but then life would get in the way and we never did. And now, getting a will became our priority. We did our wills, power of attorney, living will and figured out our life insurance and so on, but we never discussed the day-to-day finances. Why? Because I was supposed to have been supervising. I had a banking background. I did this everyday. I did not need to worry about it. I would figure it out.
Well, I could not figure it out. The simplest of things were hard for me to do. I did not even know where to begin. I had spent the last two years of my life being a caregiver all while still trying to give my daughter a regular life. I spent the last six months soaking up every minute with my husband so that I had no regrets. I never once paused and thought about money.
I soon realized that I could not do this. By going solo I had so many other things on my plate now. There were no longer any shared responsibilities. I was responsible for it all. I had to take care of my daughter and navigate being an only parent all while keeping up with the household, cooking and cleaning. I had to ensure the car had gas and was in good working order to get me to and from work. As well as shovel the snow and mow the lawn. And to top it all off I had bills to pay on one paycheck.
All along I kept thinking to myself, why is the financial aspect of life so hard for me to navigate. I should know this. This should be like second nature to me. Why was this so hard. Why couldn’t I just get my crap together and slay this.
I developed a system to help me navigate through the widow fog so that I could get the things I needed done.
Here are some tips I used:
- Write things down
It might seem like it is redundant, but it will help you get everything out of your head. As the days start to blur together you will need to have things written down. Bills, kid activities, appointments, and phone calls you need to make. Write it all down. You will thank me later.
In the early days there will be lots of financial things you will need to take care of. These things will need to be tended to by you and should be done in a timely fashion. There may be other things like watching your kids or cooking meals that you can outsource. Friends and family will be asking to help, and these are the things you can ask them to help you with so that you can tend to the financial matters.
- Consolidate and streamline financial matters
Having multiple cards and multiple bank accounts can be tough to manage. Make a list of all your credit cards and list out the pros and cons of each one and then cancel the ones that do not serve you. A few things to consider when deciding what credit cards to cancel: high interest rates and annual fees. By managing your finances, it will reduce stress and anxiety.
- Create a Budget
Create a budget to keep your finances organized. Having a budget will allow you to see where your money is going and support you in taking control of your finances, especially when you only have one income.
May you find these tips helpful to support you when you are recovering after a loss and need resources to help you manage your finances. Remember to be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. You are grieving and it is alright if you are not functioning at the same level as you were before.
On your way, if you seek help and are overwhelmed with your hard finical situation after a loss, contact Bromwich+Smith and ask your questions, or book a consultation session today. At Bromwich+Smith, Debt Relief Specialists are available by phone at 1.855.884.9243 or you can request a call back via the contact us page. There is no need to travel to a local office. Licensed Insolvency Trustee, Bromwich+Smith, is now offering video appointments, with all services available from the comfort of your home.
By Zahra Khakoo – Team Lead Debt Relief Specialist
Zahra has been in the finance industry for over 20 years and is passionate about helping women with becoming financially fit. Being widowed for 5 years now, she intimately understands the struggles a widow goes through. Zahra works actively to break down the stigmas around widowhood and finances.