Feb 212013 5 Responses

Money and Grief

A simple piece of advice—never buy a house on your way home from the funeral.

It’s a rather amazing concept: we can take two substances which by themselves are harmless, but when combined their interaction can have an explosive effect.

  • Chlorine and ammonia
  • gasoline and a match
  • Alcohol and Mel Gibson

By themselves these items are stable, but put together, they are volatile.

I once had a meeting with an attorney. He walked in a few minutes late, gave me one look, and said, “two dead rich parents and two ungrateful adult children.” He didn’t need to say anymore.

There is not a more explosive combination than money and grief. It’s the cause of many a family fight at the funeral. It’s the reason the average widow blows through her spouse’s life insurance in just months. It’s the reason the shop-oholic can’t control her spending.

Grief creates a sorrow which money can temporarily soothe. Yet there is never a worst time to spend money than while in grief. Our vision is blurred. Our wounds are exposed. Our ability to think is compromised. If ever we should not be making decisions, it is while we are experiencing grief. Yet it is at this very time in which we are most likely to spend money.

Grief is not just experienced at the funeral home. We all experience grief.

  • Life doesn’t turn out the way we wish.
  • A diagnosis is given.
  • A child grows up.
  • A promotion is delayed.
  • A season in life is left behind.

Grief can come in many formats. When it is experienced we must be careful.

Here are several suggestions regarding how to spend money in times of grief:

Slow down. Grief speeds up our decision making. To make a wise choice, we must slow down. Never buy anything on an impulse when you know you are experiencing grief.

Seek advice. Grief limits our ability to see beyond ourselves. Advisors have the ability to assist us in times of trouble.

Heal, then spend. Instead of trying to cope with grief by spending money, work with someone to explore the grief you are experiencing in hopes of finding healing. If you are experiencing a cycle of debt, it could be an underlying grief which is making it difficult for you to get a handle on your finances. 

For more on money:

An 85 Word Money Solution

10 Questions About Money

5 Responses to Money and Grief
  1. [...] before starting a new relationship. The only thing more foolish than spending money while grieving ... kevinathompson.com/when-a-marriage-falls-apart
  2. […] the grieving widow recklessly spends the life insurance money […]... kevinathompson.com/life-falls-apart
  3. […] decision when deep in grief. How many times have you seen the grieving widow or widower waste the li... kevinathompson.com/bad-decisions-timing-vs-choices
  4. cameramark Reply

    I think you’re absolutely right Kevin , following the traumatic death of my mother, my father is holidaying and buying like there is no tomorrow ! Now I understand why, and I’ll be better placed to help him. Thank you

  5. Olly Reply

    I did exactly the same my husband died and I had this uncontrollable urge to spend money on things I did not need . I so regret what I did .I’m ok now I’m very careful with money now. I so wish I had someone to tell me to stop spending I did not know at the time that I was just trying to soothe the ache I had inside .

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