We all have financial bad habits. Grief can throw us so far off our game that we don’t even see them. These three ways of thinking are common.
1. The kids have been through such a rough time. I’ll make it up to them with big, expensive presents
If we look back at our own childhoods, maybe only one or two gifts were significant. In sixteen or twenty years of birthdays and Christmases and special occasions, we remember the mood of the day more than anything else. We particularly remember whether the grown-ups listened to us.
Bereavement experts agree that children grieve differently to adults. They can be heartbroken one minute and distracted by something silly the next. They are sensitive to things we miss and oblivious to things that floor us.
Focus on listening to your kids. Surround them with loving relatives or family friends. And if you need help, show your kids that it’s good to reach out and ask for help.
2. Shopping takes my mind off things and helps me feel I’m doing something useful
We can get into all sorts of trouble when we try to avoid things that can’t be avoided. A therapist can help you find ways of dealing with your feelings. If you’re spending more than you can afford then a debt charity can put you in touch with practical help and emotional support.
At the same time, on your own or with a friend, set out to explore different ways of relaxing or feeling occupied, that don’t cost so much. Do things that exercise your body or expand your social circle. There’s a reason that rambling and walking groups are popular with bereaved people and an added bonus is that they don’t usually go near shops.
3. I don’t open the mail anymore. I feel as if I’m playing chicken with myself to see how long I can go before there are serious consequences
Being able to see that that’s what you’re doing is a good start.
If you just can’t be bothered with more paperwork, ask a friend to sit with you while you round up all the envelopes into one box and start opening them. Make it a celebration of conquering your fears or a serious process of marching back to take control of your life – whatever works for you.
If that sounds too difficult, talk to a therapist. They might be able to help you defuse the fears. You might even find one willing to host an envelope opening session in their consulting room.
If you know that your fear is because you can’t afford to pay any more bills, call a debt helpline because they know that feeling better than anyone. Step Change is one of the biggest debt charities and their website is https://www.stepchange.org
Image by iStock.com / grinvalds
First published in Widows and Widowers magazine, Issue 13