If you’re a high-intensity, high-energy financial professional, your approach probably won’t fit the needs of a grieving widow. “They really need to take time,” says Jane Young, CFP, EA, and co-founder of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based It’s Not Just Money Inc.
These grieving women, Young says, “are in a fog those first one to three years. And you’ll see the wolves trying to get them to buy, but with so many things to worry about, the finances should be the least of their worries.”
Young says while there are categories of grievers, it’s best not to set a timetable on when a widow will be ready to discuss finances. In one case, a client’s husband had suffered from dementia for years. Young thought the widow, with so many years of dealing with her husband’s illness, would be better prepared for his passing. The actual death, however, was a tremendous loss.
“He may have been gone mentally, but he was still there with her physically,” Young says. “With his death, he was completely gone from her life, and she needed time to deal with that.”
During our conversation, Young points me to a study conducted by the Administration on Aging. Some of the statistics of the 2010 research, the most recent year data is available, is eye-opening to say the least.
- In 2009, older men (measured as 65-plus years of age in this study) were much more likely to be married than older women — 72 percent of men compared to 42 percent of women.
- Widows accounted for 41 percent of all older women in 2009. There were over four times as many widows (8.9 million) as widowers (2.1 million).
- Divorced and separated (including married/spouse absent) older persons represented only 11.9 percent of all older persons in 2009. However, this percentage has increased since 1980, when approximately 5.3 percent of the older population were divorced or separated/spouse absent.
- Over half of all women over 75 live alone and one-third of all women who become widows are under the age of 65.
While many of those statistics probably fall under a mathematical parameter that we might all suspect, the one that is most startling to me is the last one, concerning the age of widows. I ask Young about this number, wondering if it is a misprint.