Widowed Woman and Her DaughterRecently, I interviewed Aurora Winter of the Grief Coach Academy who reiterated a piece of wisdom I’ve long shared with clients of mine.  She then went on to explain exactly why in words so thoughtful, I wanted to share it with all of you.

The wisdom is this:

do not make any huge financial decisions by yourself, and especially try to avoid making any financial decisions of any consequence within the first year

Here is the reasoning, in Aurora’s words:

“Another thing that can happen is the dominant side of your brain can flip, with a sudden shock. So for example, prior to my husband’s death, I had actually been the one responsible for paying the bills, I had designed a tax shelter, I had studied honors …you know, I was very comfortable with numbers and I totally understood that, but after he died I was literally unable to pay the bills. I just couldn’t grasp it; it was beyond my intellectual capacity at that moment. What had happened, what I speculate had happened is that the dominant side of my brain had flipped, temporarily, so I couldn’t logically, linearly process things.  On the other hand, my diary is filled with beautiful poetry that I think is touching, so that’s the other side of my brain, so that’s something also to be aware of.  

Oftentimes people who are dealing with a sudden death or even just completely devastated from a heartbreak is they think “Is there something wrong with me?  Have I got Alzheimer’s?  Is this my permanent condition from now on?”  So I think it’s very important to reassure people whether they’re dealing with a death, if it’s divorce, or even a career loss or a bankruptcy or something like that, just take a few deep breaths.  It is a process and don’t be surprised if you’re not showing up at your best.  It doesn’t mean you’ve got Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t mean that it’s permanent, it just means that your system has had such a huge shock; it’s kind of like you spilled the cup, and now the cup is overflowing. And so it needs some time, and this is where you know, your show and other resources that you offer can really come in handy.

I advise people who are dealing with a death or divorce or major loss, do not make any huge financial decisions by yourself, and especially try to avoid making any financial decisions of any consequence within the first year, so that you have a little buffer time. But if you do need to make some important financial decisions, then reach out to an expert, such as yourself, Debra, because you need counsel and you can’t be relying on your own intellectual capacity at this point, because you’ve been overwhelmed emotionally.  You may also not be thinking clearly; literally not thinking clearly.”

This totally resonates with me! I suggest that for women or men who have lost their partner, absolutely no major choices in the first six months; I like a year actually.  When I have the privilege of being called into a situation early enough to advise and/or coach widows, I am very much an advocate of continuing to review the basics, and moving baby step by baby step.

The takeaway, I believe is this:

When you have experienced a sudden loss, like becoming widowed or a sudden break (for whatever reason) there are a lot of people around you, who love you and want to help.  Try to take them up on as much help as you can, but do it wisely.  If I can be brutal here for a moment, make sure you get financial advice from someone who knows something about (and has a proven track record with) financial planning, and real estate advice from a licensed realtor.  Sure, take advice, and lean on the kind loving folks around you, they’re desperate to share the load and lessen your pain.  Let them help you, but always match up the advice with the source.