Key Takeaways

  • Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult transitions a person goes through in life.
  • There are some commonalities that widows share when it comes to money concerns.
  • We asked six questions of widows to find out what thoughts, concerns, and difficulties they experienced as they went through this transition.

Widowhood is an incredibly difficult and stressful time of life that many women experience. The tragedy and misfortune that comes with losing a spouse makes it one of the hardest things a person can go through in life.

We wanted to better understand how to help widows. Over the years, we’ve worked with and helped dozens of widows and have learned a lot from them, but we went back to the drawing board and asked six questions of the widows we know. We wanted to find out what worked for them, what concerns they had, and how they viewed things regarding their money and family.

The first question was, “What’s important to you about money?” The consistent answer was that they wanted to be sure to have enough money and not run out. This sounds like a pretty basic thing, right? Many times, though, the widow did not know everything that was happening with their finances, so their first concern was, “What happens now?”

This leads to the second question, which was, “What concerns and needs were you facing when it came to money?” The responses included not understanding the money, not being able to pay bills, making mistakes with the money, and needing someone who was trustworthy to help them navigate through these issues.

The third question was, “What are the top two most difficult things that happened to you upon becoming a widow?” The number one response was not understanding the things that were in place when it came to their money. Again, this falls into the same arena of not knowing what’s going on and not knowing where to turn to help deal with money issues. Other concerns included how to deal with the estate, check writing/paying bills for unfamiliar areas, getting finances organized, and knowing who to work with.

The fourth question was, “What kind of value did the team of professionals who helped you through provide you?” For most, it was comfort and reassurance. They needed someone to say, “It’s okay – we’ll get through this. We’ll get you up to speed. It’ll take time, but don’t worry about it, because we’ll do that for you, and we’ll let you know if you need to do anything.” We’ve had this discussion with widows, and we’ve taken care of everything – from the financial, legal, accounting, and other areas that get taken care of behind the scenes – that the widow may not have been aware needed to be done.

The fifth question was, “How much would you like to be involved in your money?” The vast majority said the same two things: not at all, or not very much. They just did not want to deal with it. However, a few said, “I want to be involved because I feel like I’ve got to be involved…but I want it to be basic and simple, not complex and difficult to understand. So, make it easy for me.”

The sixth question was, “What do you want to do for others (children, grandchildren, other family members, friends)?” Overwhelmingly, there were two main responses. First, these widows wanted to ensure that their estates would eventually go to their children. Second, they wanted to fund their grandchildren’s college educations, citing concerns that this big expense was something their children might not have the ability to afford.

If you’re currently going through widowhood and have concerns about the money side of things, we hope this helps. Many widows have the same questions of “Am I normal? Is this what happens to most widows? Are these the same kinds of things others are trying to address?” Hopefully this helps you to gain a little bit of understanding and perhaps it makes the road a little easier as you walk down the path of this very difficult life transition.


If you’d like to read more on this topic, here are a few of our past Coyle Blog posts that might be of interest:

Discussing Your Estate Finances with Your Children

Ancient Wisdom, Modern prudence, and Family Meetings



Gary Klaben serves as a Financial Advisor, and visionary for Coyle Financial Counsel. He has over 30 years of experience and is the author of Changing the Conversation, Wealth of Everything and co-author of The Business BattlefieldWhether advising his clients, mentoring his team, or coaching entrepreneurs, he is always simplifying complexity and motivating others to take the next action that’s right for them.

Learn more about The Coyle Process, approach designed to get your arms around the big picture, so you can make informed financial decisions. Ask Gary about The Coyle Process and schedule a complimentary consultation and start living the Good Life Managed Well™.
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All information is from sources deemed reliable, but no warranty is made to its accuracy or completeness.   This material is being provided for informational or educational purposes only, and does not take into account the investment objectives or financial situation of any client or prospective client.  The information is not intended as investment advice, and is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or invest in any particular investment or market segment.  Those seeking information regarding their particular investment needs should contact a financial professional.  Coyle, our employees, or our clients, may or may not be invested in any individual securities or market segments discussed in this material.  The opinions expressed were current as of the date of posting but are subject to change without notice due to market, political, or economic conditions. All investments involve risk, including loss of principal.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

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