Becoming a widow can happen at any age. Typically, it happens in the 50s. Typically, women outlive men.
But all these stats are unimportant when your friend loses their spouse. Whether death was expected from an illness or unexpected, it’s a difficult time for your friend.
In my practice, I work with surviving spouses to help them navigate their financial situation. During our meetings, they share their experiences and how their relationships are impacted.
If your friend is now a widow, here are some things to keep in mind.
1- Be accepting
Grief has a way of changing a person. Someone who was once energetic and smart may all of a sudden become tired and foggy in thought. Someone who was once very thoughtful may all of a sudden become forgetful. Someone who was once very polite may all of sudden become rude and agitated.
All of these behavioral changes are caused by grief. Accept these changes when your friend behaves differently. The change may be temporary or it may be permament.
2- Be attentive
Each person is different when dealing with grief. Your friend may not want to talk but may not want to be alone either. They just need you to be silent and present.
On the other hand, your friend may want to talk. Don’t interrupt or try to resolve their issues. Stop talking and let your friend talk.
Your friend may want you to share memorable stories about their spouse. They still enjoy hearing their spouse’s name. Whatever your friend wants, be attentive and comply. If you don’t know what they want, ask.
3- Be patient
Don’t rush your friend to get over it and move on with life. Losing a spouse is different than losing a parent or a pet.
Let your friend go through their grieving process on their own terms. Of course, step in if you have concerns about their physical health.
Also, recognize that even if your friend begins dating, it doesn’t mean they are “over” it. There is no right or wrong timeframe to begin dating. Life goes on no matter our loss.
4- Be helpful
During the grieving process, simple tasks may become too overwhelming. Your friend may not be able to do tasks such as buying groceries, walking the dog or watering plants.
Offer to take on one or more tasks. If your friend is drowning in paperwork, offer to help or help your friend find a virtual assistant. When offering to help, be specific.
When your friend’s spouse dies, be a good friend. Show up and be there for them during this difficult time. If you don’t know what to say, that’s okay because there are no right words during this difficult time. But being present for them, even after a year has passed, will mean the world to them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”