Today is the four-year anniversary of my husband Greg’s sudden passing. As I sit here writing I reflect back on what had to be done in the hours after his death. The biggest decision was how do I tell the kids that their Dad is gone. What words do you choose for an audience of 8-year-old innocence, 11-year-old independence, and 12-year-old indifference? How are each one of my kids going to accept these words? The choices I made in those moments would have lasting effects for my kids.
The next few weeks came with lots of different decisions. There came the time when I had to figure out the finances. What benefits did the kids and I qualify for? How do handle the life insurance policies, investments, 401(k)s? Some decisions had to be made quickly so the mortgage and car payments could be made. Other decisions could be made more methodical. Although these decisions didn’t have to be made within 24-hours, or within two weeks, there was still stress surrounding them. Because of the magnitude of these decisions, I used those around me to help. For example, I called the human resource director from my husband’s employer for guidance. She was so kind and compassionate, she literally handed me a highlighted directory of whom to contact and for what. In another instance, my sister-in-law acted as a second set of ears and eyes… because emotions would sometimes get the best of me, she could stay focused and present. With her help, I was able to avoid situations where one is tempted to make a spur-of-the-moment, emotional decision.
It was just about a month after my husband passed that I made the appointment to have a consultation with my financial planner. I sat next to him at an intimate round table with my binders, copies, and mental question marks, (oh, and my sister-in-law in tow). My financial planner assessed the moving parts, collected needed information, helped me clarify both my short-term and long-term goals, and helped focus my energy on what was essential. I left his office knowing that I was not alone and was not doing this by myself. In the visits that followed, my advisor educated me on the planning process, explained the moving parts of my financial life, diagramed their integration, and answered my questions fully with thought and humbleness. Often the fear and anxiety of not understanding one’s finances can lead a person overwhelmed and he/she simply does not make any decision at all. After experiencing the financial planning process, I was empowered to make decisions, not scared. Knowing the financial choices that I made during this time would have long lasting effects on me and the kids, I needed guidance and I felt relieved and confident when I had it.
Life is full of decisions, when making the urgent ones, surround yourself with those whom have your best interest at heart.