Advising Young Widows: It’s Not Just About the Money
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In my work with female clients in transition, some of the most difficult conversations are with those whose lives have been upended by the death of their spouses. These are especially tough when the bereaved woman is in her younger years, often with children still at home. And while there are a host of financial questions that require answers, some of the most important support we can offer clients in grief is not directly related to their finances.
As advisors concerned with our clients’ total personal wellbeing, one of the most valuable things we can do for a woman in this position is listen more and speak less.
Avoid trying to “solve” someone’s grief with advice about when it’s time to “move on” or “get back out there.” One of the best pieces of emotional advice was provided by a friend who had experienced the loss of a spouse. He told a young widow, “Don’t let anyone tell you what you ‘should’ be doing or feeling.” Remember, each person is unique, and their grief is supremely individualized. While there are certain general principles that hold true for most people, the particulars and timing for how any person handles the grief of bereavement is for them, and them only, to determine.
For many young widows, simply finding the energy to look beyond their own grief and take care of their children’s needs is a Herculean task. In 2020, there were about 600,000 children in the United States who lived with a widowed parent. For women in that position, having a support group is often a lifesaver. In addition to local, in-person groups, online forums like WidowsConnection.org, SisterhoodOfWidows.com, and others provide a place for young widows to share with others who are experiencing the same journey and to seek advice from those who are a bit farther along the path. As a trusted counselor, one of the best things you can do for a widowed client is to steer them toward a place where they can find support and understanding.