Dear Michael:

My husband died about two months ago. When it first happened, we were in a state of shock. Now, everyone has been telling us that we need to hurry up and get this and get that done as soon as possible. Our advisor has told me I need a new will and that I should make some changes in our investments. Our banker has told us we should think about changing the machinery over to our son.

What do you think we need to do first?

– Lost

Dear Lost:

The first thing you need to do, Lost, is grieve.

You have had a horrible tragic loss. Your partner through so many years is now gone. You’ll need to go through this shock for a while and until your past the stages of grief – shock, denial, anger, depression and then acceptance – there’s absolutely nothing you need to do right now.

You’re going to rotate between these stages – some days angry he’s not there to help you, angry that he left you. Other days you’ll just feel so sad you won’t even want to get out of bed – so don’t, stay in bed and do what makes you feel safe and secure right now.

Accept the fact you’re not going to be happy right now and at times you’re going to be downright ornery and hard to get along with, and other times you won’t be able to give people the answers they feel like they need. Accept the fact that you don’t have to be the person you were before this occurred as, in this loss, you likely never will be the same person again.

Death, in many ways, is a rebirth of all the people left behind as they have to become someone they weren’t before because this person who died has left such a large hole.

Eventually, you might be able to start to fill that hole in your life, but for right now the mundane and normal is no longer as you cope with this change, this loss.

If all the people surrounding you are telling you that you need to do something right now, I have a little story for you. An older woman and her son came to see me one day. She told me her husband had passed away twenty-seven years ago. She showed me his will and the deeds to the property.

On those deeds, everything was still in her deceased husband’s name. I asked her, somewhat incredulously, if she had ever gone through probate after her husband’s death and she didn’t know what I was talking about. So, I described the normal routine of taking the will and having it probated which typically ends with the deeds being transferred to a survivors name. She thought about it and said, “No, we just had the funeral and after we just went on with our life.” We had to open probate on her husband almost thirty years after he had died to get the property properly named, owned and so she could do what she wanted to do.

So, I ask you, if this woman went for thirty years without doing anything, don’t you think you can take whatever time you need to come to terms with your new life without your husband?

You really don’t have to do anything until you “feel” it’s the right time to do things.

If people push you to get things done and you feel like you just have to stuff your feelings and do what they tell you to do, you don’t. You don’t have to do anything right now until you absolutely know you can make the right decisions because you’ve had time to grieve, to be angry, to be depressed and unhappy and time to discover the new you – although it’s the last thing you ever wanted in your life.

If you need people to talk to, I have widows in all stages of this process who would be happy to visit with you. You can call me and I’ll call them to set up a time to talk on the phone. When you’re ready to talk, it’s good to talk with someone who’s right there with you – only just a few steps ahead.

Take your time – the world stopped turning for you. Wait until it’s starts turning again and then take baby steps forward.