COPING WITH GRIEF – Good Ideas from Women Who Have Been There
Working with women through the loss of a spouse or partner has, unfortunately been a predictable occurrence at Starks Financial. Like many, we struggle with wondering what we can say or do to be helpful.
Over the years, we’ve attended conferences with addresses by grief counselors. They offer us some interesting suggestions, but they also often contradict my sense of what is right. For example, do you hand a tissue to someone who is crying? Human nature tells me, of course you do! However, grief counselors tell us that implies we are telling someone to stop crying. Well, I would never want them to feel that way.
All of this led me to one place – I’m going to the “real” experts! Women that have gone through this in their lives. So, since our SFG Ladies are awesome, I sent an email message with questions about grief to five widows; I’m so appreciative for their gracious and thoughtful responses. Here are my questions, along with a response or thought that I deemed particularly helpful.
“What was one thing that a friend, family member or loved one did for you when your spouse passed that just changed your day, week, or month?”
- One woman’s friends took her out of town for a week’s vacation. Getting away from her normal environment helped with her perspective.
“What was most helpful in the healing process?”
- Another woman talked about what it’s like to be a full-time caregiver and then have those responsibilities disappear when the spouse passes. Routines are important. When you are a caregiver, you spend most days attending doctor’s appointments, ensuring medications are taken, and trying to create as much peace as possible for your loved one. When that person passes, creating a new routine and refocusing on yourself sooner rather than later is a good idea. One idea that I thought was great is having a daily time with a friend for a walk in the neighborhood, a phone call, or an exercise class. All of these options will improve your self-care and help create a new routine
- Don’t let perceived awkwardness keep you from talking about the deceased spouse. One client wished that her friends had talked more about her husband.
- Don’t forget that healing takes time. Widows should expect a few years to resume life where they really feel alive again. Hold onto the good. There is a good life alone, but just let it happen at the pace that is yours.
“What do you do to overcome that ‘fog’ that appears right after your spouse has passed and seems to last for a few months?”
- Here’s a great practical idea – put a notepad right beside your phone. Every morning, go to the notepad and write the date at the top. Then, when making or receiving calls throughout the day, take good notes, focusing especially on tasks that need to be completed. Include who you are talking with, their company and contact number, time of the call, and questions that were discussed. Good notes made the inevitable follow-up calls much easier to deal with.
- One client is very organized and understands financial concepts with no problem. However, the “fog” set in immediately, when her husband passed away unexpectedly. Her sons came home and created a spreadsheet of all monthly bills. She could then just check them off each month as she paid them and not have to try to remember what was due. The spreadsheet made it easier to focus on the unexpected or “one-off” expenses that come with a spouse’s death.
I appreciate so much that our ladies were willing to share ideas with us. If you have any additional ideas, we’d love to share them with our SFG family.
Starks Financial Group, Inc. 440 Montford Avenue Asheville, NC 28801 (828) 285-8777
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