Mary’s husband of 20 years died unexpectedly. He was seven years her senior.

She paid the bills and managed the household. He was the breadwinner and managed their savings.

While coping with the loss of her husband, she had to figure out how she was going to afford their expenses.

There was no option, she had to return to work.

Does this situation sound familiar?

If you’re over 55 years old, you or one of your friends are probably going through a similar situation. From the U.S. Census 2016 data, over 13 million people over 55 years old are widowed, representing 90% of the total widow population.

Whether your income needs are temporary (until legal matters are resolved) or ongoing, it’s difficult to begin a job search while mourning.

Start by working with a CFP® to identify how much income you need to generate. Once you know the amount, then start looking at opportunities that will reach that target.

Keep in mind most job opportunities advertise gross income or income before taxes. The number from your CFP® is probably after-tax dollars.

To boost your confidence, list all your skills and work you’ve done for nonprofit organizations. Be specific using numbers to indicate how many people you worked with and how much your budget was for the event.

Next, reach out to family and friends. Let them know you are looking for job opportunities. When you’ve been out of the job market for a while your best way back into it is through your connections.

If you’re embarrassed to let others know about your situation, then say you need to keep busy. But really, there is no need to be embarrassed, true friends are always willing to help.

Another option is to explore organizations you’ve been active in to see if they have any job opportunities. Look at religious organizations, other nonprofit organizations, medical offices, and schools.

Job hunting is hard. Know there will be many “no” responses before you find a “yes.”

Avoid time traps such as creating a “perfect” resume or applying online for jobs. Most jobs are found through connections.

While you’re looking for work, start doing what you can to sell assets and cut expenses. You may even be able to pet-sit, baby-sit, or house-sit for others to generate some income temporarily.

Losing a spouse is emotionally devastating and even more difficult when there’s not enough money. While it’s easy for some to cut back on their lifestyle and still live well, others may need to re-enter the job force. Stay positive, reach out, and be resourceful.


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.’”