Widowed, with Children: Steps toward Resuming Life

In our work with women in transition, perhaps nothing is more taxing—or important—than counseling clients who are suddenly facing life without a spouse. The stakes are even higher when you are bereaved and still raising children. Whether the kids are pre-school or in college, there are few more difficult tasks in life than trying to make sense of a world that is upside-down while also trying to give your children—who are grieving, too—the support they need from you as their surviving parent.

While we often advise clients to avoid making major financial decisions in the early days of bereavement, there are some actions and decisions that can’t be put off, especially for newly single parents. Handling some of these “must-dos” can even help you start to regain a small sense of control as you begin the journey toward the next phases of life.

  1. Social Security benefits for your children. Unmarried children up to age 19 can receive benefits if the deceased parent worked long enough for an employer who paid Social Security Taxes. You can apply at www.ssa.gov; you’ll need the child’s birth certificate or proof of adoption, along with Social Security numbers for the child, yourself, and the deceased parent.
  2. Life insurance, pension benefits. Policies owned by you and your spouse or provided by an employer are typically a crucial source for needed funds in the early days and weeks following the death of a spouse. If your spouse worked for an employer who offered a pension or other retirement plan, you should contact them regarding the payment of any survivor benefits to which you may be entitled. In some cases, you may want to consider setting up accounts or even trusts for education or other future funding for your children.
  3. Find a structure that works. Remember that the non-financial aspects of your and your children’s journey through grief are often the most important. Especially for younger children, it’s important to establish or re-establish a somewhat consistent rhythm of daily life. This provides them a much-needed sense of security in a world that has suddenly become much less predictable.
  4. Take help when you need it. Many bereaved parents are so focused on staying strong for their children that they forget about their own self-care. This is a mistake. Remember what they say on the airlines: “Put your own mask on first before helping the child beside you.” If you don’t take care of you—and let trusted friends and family members do the same—you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. If you need a dinner delivery, it’s okay to ask for it. On the other hand, if what you really need is a ride for your daughter to her soccer practice, you should tell somebody.

At Empyrion Wealth Management, we provide fiduciary advice and planning that is always aimed at serving the client’s interests foremost. To learn more about how we help widows navigate the difficult path of bereavement, click here to read our whitepaper, “Beyond the Grief.”

Stay Diversified, Stay YOUR Course!

Empyrion Wealth Management (“Empyrion”) is an investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Information pertaining to Empyrion’s advisory operations, services and fees is set forth in Empyrion’s current Form ADV Part 2A brochure, copies of which are available upon request at no cost or at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov. The views expressed by the author are the author’s alone and do not necessarily represent the views of Empyrion. The information contained in any third-party resource cited herein is not owned or controlled by Empyrion, and Empyrion does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of any information that may be found in such resources. Links to any third-party resource are provided as a courtesy for reference only and are not intended to be, and do not act as, an endorsement by Empyrion of the third party or any of its content. The standard information provided in this blog is for general purposes only and should not be construed as, or used as a substitute for, financial, investment or other professional advice. If you have questions regarding your financial situation, you should consult your financial planner or investment advisor.

Sign Up for Media Updates