Most of us will experience grief during our lifetime. Losing someone or something you love can be a devastating experience, and can leave a permanent mark on our lives. Often, there is also a financial aspect to our grief. The fusion of money and suffering creates strong emotions that affect our mental health and our relationship with money. This emotional turbulence can be overwhelming and difficult to manage, especially when you’re feeling lonely and stressed.
Let’s explore the challenges of financial grief and some practical steps for coping after a loss.
Limiting financial beliefs or money habits may rise to the surface during times of grief. For example, you may believe that "good karma" will take care of your finances. Or you may question why you, a good person, should have to experience financial struggles.
These are some limiting beliefs you may struggle with during these times:
Such beliefs can lead to behaviors and emotions such as overspending, giving away treasures, anger, underspending, bitterness, hoarding, fear for the future, embarrassment, sadness, guilt, shock, denial, regrets, and many others.
Forgive yourself or someone else. A typical reaction to any loss is placing blame. And while you may be correct in your assessment, holding on to the blame chains you to the past. And holds your future hostage. You need to move on for the sake of your well-being.
Recently, I met with someone who was “really pissed” and grieved for years when they didn’t receive the family home in the expected inheritance. Eventually, they realized that the situation was a detriment to their well-being, and the best solution was to forgive and move on with their life. A few years later, they purchased their own home.
You need to accept the loss and allow yourself to grieve before you can start healing. As clinical psychologist Sarah Gundle says, “Acceptance doesn’t mean that you feel happy about the loss. Rather, in this stage, there is finally an acceptance of the pain and loss you experienced, and you start to look forward to and plan for the future,”
Allow yourself to feel grief. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not a sign of weakness when men cry. When I lost each parent, managing the estate became my responsibility, and it was the last thing I wanted to think about. My thoughts were focused on not having them in my life anymore. I kept wondering what life would be like without them, remembering the memories we shared and worrying about the conversation I would have to have with my kids. I found healthy ways to express my emotions: I talked out loud, wrote in a journal and shared with others. Because everyone grieves differently, taking a break is another option.
Don’t put money decisions off for later
The first days following a loss could be important for achieving financial stability. It may involve monitoring income, expenses, debt, investments, and making informed decisions about how to best allocate resources.
Remember, there are financial responsibilities attached to grief. Address the challenges and implement the practical tips. These tips have helped me overcome my challenges with money and grief. I share this with you because I want you to take care of your finances and live with a sense of control, grace and resilience in an otherwise uncertain time.
If you want additional support, consider meeting with a financial accountability coach who can help you assess your situation and find solutions that work for you.
Bobby Clark (Founder - Clark on Money Coaching Services)
Bobby is the founder of Clark on Money Coaching Services, a firm that offers virtual services and specializes in helping medical professionals who feel stuck financially find simple solutions to their frustrations while providing solid guidance toward goal achievement. He earned a CFP Certification Professional Education from the College for Financial Planning. He is a member of Coach Connections and the Association of Financial Counseling and Planning Education organizations. In 2021 he received the designation of Global Presence Ambassador for his contribution to Financial Literacy education.
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