17 Big Mistakes People Make After Losing a Spouse

Losing a spouse is one of the hardest things anyone can go through. It can leave you in a vulnerable position if you don’t quickly get your affairs in order, depending on how things were arranged in your marriage. Here are 17 big mistakes people regularly make after losing a spouse.

Not Getting Finances in Order

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When you lose your spouse, finances are the last thing on your mind, but if they previously took care of your financial affairs, it’s a serious challenge. Ensure you understand the bills you must pay, how much they cost, and what providers you’re with. Organize your accounts and create everyday living budgets.

Avoiding Paperwork

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Sadly, death comes with a lot of paperwork. It’s exhausting, but you need to complete all the necessary paperwork to get your affairs in order. US Bank recommends having at least ten copies of your spouse’s death certificate for different records, plus your marriage certificate, property deeds, and social security information.

Closing Joint Bank Accounts

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You may want to close joint bank accounts after losing your spouse, and you can do that with a death certificate as proof. However, closing joint accounts can negatively affect your credit score, so having your spouse’s name removed from the account might be wiser.

Canceling Cell Phones

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Though you’ll cancel your deceased spouse’s cell phone at some point, don’t rush to do it straight away. Transfer all the photos, conversations, and important passwords from your spouse’s phone to your own first because you won’t be able to get them back once the phone is canceled.

Falling For Scams

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Sadly, many opportunistic people try to take advantage of widows and widowers, so be wary of any new salespeople or advisors trying to get involved in your affairs. If they’re trying to scam you, they’ll play into your grief to steal money or assets. Remain vigilant.

Isolating Themselves

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It’s understandable to want to retreat into your home and avoid everybody after losing the person closest to you, but this is terrible for your mental health. Without proper support, you risk becoming overwhelmed by grief, which will make it even more difficult for you to process everything.

Not Informing Social Security Immediately

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One of the first things you should do when your spouse passes away is contact the Social Security Administration, and not doing so is a big mistake. This is because you might be eligible for Survivors’ Benefits, and if you leave it too late, you may miss out on vital support.

Making Drastic Decisions

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Losing your spouse changes the course of your entire life, so it’s understandable to want to make drastic changes to escape your grief. However, you need time to slow down and process things before making massive decisions. Widows and widowers commonly regret such decisions, such as moving to another country.

Not Consulting the Estate Plan

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Estate planning is an essential procedure, so it’s a big mistake to avoid consulting a deceased spouse’s estate plan when you’re organizing your finances. The estate plan tells you what your spouse planned for their assets, including money and property, so you’ll know where you stand going forward.

Avoiding Outstanding Debts

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Debts can quickly pile up, so it’s essential to manage them when you’ve lost a spouse. If your spouse accrued debts during their life, their estate is liable. As executor or administrator of their estate, you will become solely responsible for the debts, and you don’t want them to financially drain you.

Not Arranging a Childcare Plan

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Losing a spouse is tragic, even more so when you have children. Adjusting to parenting alone is difficult, but there’s plenty of help available. Advice from Parents.com recommends finding a support system and prioritizing consistency to make things easier for yourself, helping to ease the pressure.

Deprioritizing Their Own Health

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It’s easy to neglect your health after losing your spouse, but doing so is a big mistake. Try to engage in physical activity and maintain a healthy diet. Drowning your sorrows with food, alcohol, or substances is terrible for your health and will only delay the grieving process.

Wasting Money

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Overspending is another common coping mechanism when you’re experiencing grief, but try not to fall into this trap. Retail therapy won’t provide any long-term comfort, and emotional overspending often leads to debt, and you don’t need the stress when you’re grieving.

Taking on Too Much

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It’s natural to keep busy after your whole world has been turned upside-down, but taking on too much is a huge mistake. Harvard Health warns that chronic stress caused by grief can lead to depression, insomnia, anxiety, and physical pains, so avoid taking on too much and look after yourself.

Clearing Out Possessions Too Soon

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Having your spouse’s possessions throughout your home can be a painful reminder of your loss, but avoid clearing them out too soon. In your grief, you might throw out or give away possessions that you’ll regret losing later, and once they’re gone, you won’t get them back.

Not Exploring Potential Financial Assistance

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You may think you’re not entitled to any financial assistance from the state following your spouse’s death, but not checking is a mistake. For example, if you have a child in college, they might be eligible for financial aid, or you may be able to claim state benefits if your spouse did.

Being Hard On Themselves

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Perhaps the most common mistake grieving people make is being too hard on themselves when they’re struggling. Grief comes in many forms, so it could make you feel guilty, purposeless, or weak. Don’t take this to heart; it’s normal, but people will be eager to help and support you, so let them.

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