At one of the most difficult times in your life, you just want the time to grieve. The loss of a spouse—whether through death or divorce—can be devastating.

Do allow yourself time to grieve. Be sad. Be angry. Allow yourself any and all emotions. Indulge yourself, but don’t compound the pain by harmful indulgences that include excesses. Also, trying to forget immediately can lead to harmful distractions and delay the much-needed process of letting go. At this time, the old adage is true…time does heal.

Here are some strategies to take:

Talk about it – You can talk to a professional, to trusted friends and/or family, or join a like group. Whatever you choose, it does help to get things out.

Take a trip – Go somewhere that you’ve never been so you can recharge. It does not have to be outside the country. It can even be just an hour or more from your home. A change of scenery might help.

Start a project/activity – Choose something that interests you. Perhaps it’s a cooking class you’ve been wanting to take or trying out hot yoga or taking skating lessons. Try to get outside your comfort zone so you can feel invigorated.

Volunteer – Nothing feels better than transforming sadness into joy by seeing the happiness in people or animals from the effort you put in to help them.

Spend time outside – Breathe in the fresh air. Natural sunlight promotes vitamin D production in our bodies which is critical for overall good health.

How about the worries surrounding finances?  In relationships many times, there is one partner or spouse that is more skilled at a task than the other.  A good example of this is managing money.  If you are left with little to no understanding of the household and investment finances, you might feel very nervous, stressed, and even fearful.  Take a deep breath.  You can do this.  For one thing, you do not have to do this alone.  Seek a good finance professional—one that you chose and with whom you feel comfortable.  Perhaps you already have a finance professional that takes care of your family account needs.  If you know them and feel comfortable with them, then keep them.  However, please note, this existing finance professional should do everything he/she can do to make you aware and completely comfortable with all your financial accounts.  Be wary of the “well-intended” that insists you need to know nothing since they will take care of you, like usual.  The problem with this is you still need to know.  You need to feel empowered and in control of your own money.  You determine the destination and the course.  The job of the financial professionals are simply to drive you, navigating through weather, bumps, detours to get you safely to your destination.

In summary, remember, you are not defined by that other person…or by any person. You may have inadvertently over time, allowed yourself to be defined by your spouse, but you do stand as an individual in your own right. Yes you need time to grieve, and then you need time to start finding your strength…finding who you are and how you want to be defined. Eventually, you will find your sunrise after the storm. Embrace it. You own it, because you earned it.

Rosalynn Harvey Heth, MPA, CEPS is president and COO of Preserve Wealth Management, a boutique registered investment advisory firm that specializes in getting families to and through retirement. PWM’s wealth management services go beyond investments to include many non-financial services including an Aging Plan. To learn more, click here.

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