It's a call you never expected to get. You knew theoretically that it could happen. It happens to people all the time in the United States. One evening spent watching the nightly news is enough to make that clear. But you never really thought about what it meant for you.
Your spouse passed away. Maybe they were involved in a car accident on the way to work or got seriously injured in a workplace accident and died on the way to the hospital. Maybe a doctor made a mistake and prescribed a medication to which they were allergic to. When your spouse fill the prescription that day and took the first dose, that was it.
No matter how it happened, you know that call changed your life forever. Now what?
Don't go it alone
First and foremost, do not make yourself go through this alone. It's too much. There's the emotional trauma to deal with, the stress of planning a funeral, the questions about what to tell the kids and the financial uncertainty that now hangs over your family. You can't deal with all of that at once, all by yourself.
Let people help you. Let them cook you meals and watch your kids and run errands. Let them come over just to spend time with you. Talk to friends and family members about how you feel. Consider meeting with a therapist. Find the support system you need. It makes everything easier.
Give yourself time
Everything seems pressing and immediate. While you may need to plan the funeral right away -- or have someone do it for you -- nothing else is that dire. If you need time, take it. Give yourself a chance to grieve. Some people go back to work the next day and try to act like they're fine, but they just make it worse. Your boss will understand. Take the time to work through this.
Start considering the widespread ramifications
After you do that, then you can start considering all of the changes in your life. You need to gather important financial documents, consider your debt and income, think about where you're going to live and decide what to do about your own employment status if your spouse was the main breadwinner. Documents to consider include:
- Bank statements
- Mortgage papers
- Credit card statements
- Estate plans
- Powers of attorney
- Birth and death certificates
- Insurance policies
- Tax returns
- Medical documents
Life is changing, and you have to address all of these details. As you do it, you may also want to think about your legal rights to compensation for a wrongful death. It may help you cover a lot of these costs as you move forward.