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Sudden death of a loved one: what happens next?

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A devastating loss is one of the most highly stressful emotions we experience. For those of us who have experienced several losses in a short period of time, death almost begins to have a "numbing" effect. If you're new to this life situation, it is challenging and takes a great deal of time to heal.

One of the most important first steps to take is to ensure that you have a strong support system in place. If that means friends, family, church family, co-workers, etc., then you are in good hands. If you have few or none of the aforementioned, it is important to put mental safeguards in place to hoist you up when lowliness comes calling. If you don't have a family of your own, get involved in a church family. Faith is very important when considering aspects of life such as death and eternal existence. Usually, churches are well-equipped to deal with grief and loss and are able to offer support and direction to the next stages of life.

Another important aspect to be considered is the financial piece of your life. Often times, if a spouse passes away unexpectedly, there are financial matters that should be addressed immediately. There again, a strong support system has to be in place to keep the vultures away. One tends to have more friends and relatives, suddenly, than ever before when a death has occurred and the surviving party is left with a healthy sum of money. Speaking from experience, it is important to put a good portion of money away (that is not touchable) for safe keeping. Grief does strange things to people. If you are hit too hard by a loss (or several, in my case), there is the tendency to lose track of money. There is also the tendency to throw caution to the wind about mortality, and in those cases, it is easy for any and everyone to usurp large amounts of money from the grieving widow, sister, mother, daughter, etc. Yes, people are that uncaring.

If your spouse has just passed away, give yourself time to grieve and mourn properly. Jumping into another relationship too soon may have devastating effects in the short and long term. Beware of potential "love matches" who are broke and need more help than you should be expected to give. That person could seem genuine, but anyone who tries to fill space in a grieving person's heart too quickly usually has self-serving intentions. Avoid starting a cycle of supporting someone who latches on shortly after a loved one passes away (especially if there is a large sum of money involved). It's more advantageous to be okay and solitary with thoughts that must fully process; that's extremely personal.

Give yourself time to mourn and then seek counseling, simply to have someone objective to confide in. The love and support of those who know you is good, but having someone to confide in that suffers no gain or loss by your true thoughts is valuable through the grieving process.

Finally, if you have received money from an insurance settlement or other, take a sabbatical. Even if your time away is only two weeks, take some time away from familiarity to connect to the world around you in ways you've never before considered. If you have children, enlist the assistance of family members and friends to pitch in and watch over them. Refresh and regroup and be fiercely guarded over aspects of life such as your privacy, your money and your sanity.

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