18 Big Mistakes People Make When Losing A Spouse

Losing a spouse is one of the most significant and stressful events you can go through, and the grieving process can be long and painful. While each person’s experience is totally unique, it is important to ensure you manage practical matters as well as your emotions as best as you can, so here are 18 mistakes you can avoid.

Ignoring Legal and Financial Matters

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When someone dies, it is important to take care of their financial and legal matters. U.S. News says, “You may be emotionally gutted, but the electric still needs to be paid. There are also plenty of documents you’ll need to collect, forms to fill out, and numbers to call, all at a time when finances may be the last thing on your mind.”

Neglecting to Plan for the Future

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While you will want to spend time reflecting on your new life and remembering your spouse, it is important to work on setting new personal goals and objectives. This includes preparing for long-term financial security and considering your future living arrangements.

Failing to Communicate with Children and Family

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Grief can be a very personal experience, and everyone close to your spouse will be grieving in their own way. While it is important to prioritize your own feelings and mental health, you should also look to understand the grief of others around you and try to communicate openly with your family members.

Neglecting Self-Care

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The National Council on Aging says that in the 90 days following a spouse’s death, the remaining partner has a 66% increased mortality rate. They put this down in part to potential neglect for health and well-being during the grieving process, “For example, the surviving partner may fail to take their prescribed medications or keep important doctor’s appointments.”

Ignoring Legal Documentation

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Managing the probate process can be tricky, but it is important to carry out the necessary processes. On top of this, it’s likely that a lot of your legal and financial documentation is linked to your spouse, and it is important that you get this updated to ensure your future security.

Overlooking Tax Implications

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Whether you are set to inherit or your financial situation will change, you may face consequences with your taxes. It is a good idea to seek professional advice to ensure you are managing this in the most efficient way, and you won’t be faced with an unexpected bill down the line.

Avoiding Financial Planning

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While you might want to ignore your new reality, it is important that, after a loss, you reassess your finances and make a new plan for the future. You’ll want to review any investments you have and check that your retirement plans are still secure enough, so it may be helpful to speak to a financial advisor for professional assistance.

Isolating Themselves

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It’s understandable that you may want time to yourself to process your grief, but it is important not to isolate yourself from your friends and family entirely. Mental Health America suggests seeking out caring people. “Find relatives and friends who can understand your feelings of loss. Join support groups with others who are experiencing similar losses.”

Discarding Personal Belongings Too Quickly

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Sorting through your spouse’s belongings is an extremely emotional experience, and as a result, it’s important to respect the time and stages of the grieving process so you don’t throw away something that you later regret. Try to make thoughtful decisions about your partner’s belongings that will enable you to remember them.

Not Seeking Emotional Support

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Grief is hard, and it can be a long process, so it might be helpful to explore therapy or counseling options in order to help you make sense of your feelings. Joining support groups or speaking to friends can also be helpful in allowing you to speak freely about your journey.

Overlooking the Grieving Process

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According to Healthline, grief is very personal; “it’s not very neat or linear. It doesn’t follow any timelines or schedules. You may cry, become angry, withdraw, or feel empty. None of these things are unusual or wrong.” They also mention the five stages of grief, which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Forgetting to Update Personal Information

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A lot of your personal documentation will likely be linked to your spouse, so make sure you spend time changing beneficiaries, updating personal details, and ensuring all of your records reflect your current financial and living status.

Neglecting Estate Planning

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Your estate plan will likely need changing as it probably references your spouse as a beneficiary or joint owner of your assets. It’s best to seek professional advice for this process so you don’t make any mistakes, and it can be helpful to have open discussions with family members so you can manage expectations.

Overindulging in Coping Mechanisms

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Grief can feel like an overwhelming weight, and some people attempt to use substances and other unhealthy outlets, such as gambling, to help them cope with their feelings. Instead, try to find healthy and creative outlets that will allow you to feel a sense of normality.

Rushing to Make Major Decisions

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According to Verywell Mind, a death is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. They say that “given the emotional and physical toll a death can have on survivors, it’s far from the best time to make serious decisions.”

Withdrawing from Social Activities

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Social connections are more important than ever when you are grieving. While you might not want to attend quite as much as before or you might switch your activities up a bit, maintaining hobbies and interests is a great way to interact with others.

Losing Sight of Personal Identity

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Whether you took on caring duties before the death of your spouse or you simply found that you’ve spent more and more time with them over the years, it can be valuable to rediscover your personal interests and passions during the grieving process. This will allow you to set new goals for yourself and embrace new opportunities.

Failing to Celebrate the Loved One’s Life

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When the pain of grief is too much, it can feel easier to block out memories and the stories told by others, but it can be very healing. By recognizing anniversaries or creating traditions to honor your spouse, you’ll celebrate their life in a loving way.

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