As senior couples grow into their golden years, one event they will likely have to deal with is the death of a spouse. When this happens, the grieving senior will need to have a support system they can count on. Here are some of the ways you can be there for your loved one when they need financial guidance as well as grief support.
Be Patient with Their Grief
Just as it is with any kind of loss, you’ll need to allow your loved one to go through the stages of grief. According to Very Well Mind, they’ll go through denial first, followed closely by anger. It might not be easy to deal with how they express their anger, but bear in mind that it’s a part of how they’re processing their emotions. They may not be approachable at this time, but they still need your support, especially when it comes to finding important financial documents. These include account statements, insurance policies, and property titles. If the spouse had any business holdings or contracts, these documents will need to be located as well.
Help Them Make Decisions
While your loved one is dealing with the death of their spouse, it can feel overwhelming to make even minor decisions. You can take the pressure off by guiding them. One essential decision they may have difficulty with is making their end-of-life arrangements. This can be an easy way to spare their surviving relatives the financial burden of future funeral costs. While having that talk, be sure to talk about prepaid funeral plans that let them pay for funeral costs before their passing. They can choose from life insurance, burial insurance, or saving in a joint account.
Help Them with Triggers
Even as your loved one is trying to cope with their loss, you have to watch out for grief triggers that can make their efforts harder. According to My Grief Assist, a grief trigger is something that rekindles memories that can lead to feelings of sadness and regret. They can lead your loved one down a path of loneliness and even depression. After their spouse’s passing, contacting the long list of people who need to know can be one of those emotional triggers. You can help by informing the spouse’s employers, credit bureaus, and health and life insurance companies, as well as banks or credit unions. Additionally, it will also be important to note that your loved one will have to file their taxes differently moving forward.
Help Them Cope with Change
After such a major change in their lives, it shouldn’t be surprising that your loved one isn’t open to modifying anything else. While you may be making plans to put away their deceased spouse’s belongings, they may resist at first. The best thing you can do is be patient with them and take things slowly. If you want to talk to them about downsizing to cut down on housing costs, then you may want to enlist the help of friends and family to help drive the point home in a kind and understanding manner. It might be good to encourage them to find a financial advisor who can help them reassess their savings and retirement needs.
Losing a spouse may be one of the hardest things your senior loved one has had to deal with. Just know that they will only be able to get through it with the help of those who love them and mean them well. You should do the best you can to support them and encourage others in as well so you’re not doing it all by yourself.
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