Moving After a Loss


Dear David,

I recently lost my spouse of nearly 50 years. We were each other’s whole world – we went everywhere and did everything together. Our house is paid off, I’m in good health and I live on a modest pension. Everyone is saying I should downsize or rent rather than keeping the house, but I’m not sure where to go from here – GRIEF STRICKEN

DEAR GRIEF: Losing a spouse after nearly 50 years may be the largest adjustment of your lifetime. The standard piece of advice I often hear is to wait a year before making big decisions. Personally, I disagree with this advice. I’d prefer you take whatever time you need to mourn, reflect and re-establish your bearings. Your grief journey is unique to you and could take months to years. Don’t worry about marking an end date on the calendar, as the journey will be different for everyone. 

Because your home is paid for, it’s probably the most economical place for you to live, at least for now. You haven’t said whether managing the house on your own is a concern. If it is, virtually everything can be contracted out, from grass cutting, to snow shoveling, to cleaning and grocery shopping. Many people in similar circumstances continue to live in their homes for decades, with help from key service providers.

I’m not sure whether it was you or your spouse who did the finances, but it’s time to sit down and do some math. Figure out what your monthly income will be now that your loved one has passed, and understand it may take a few months to figure out exactly where you stand financially. Hopping on your banking app is a fairly easy way to see the big picture, since you can review a year’s worth of transactions at once and see where your money is going. If you use the feature that allows you to categorize your transactions alphabetically, you can scroll through the list and pick out important but infrequent expenses like house insurance, car insurance and yearly subscriptions to your favourite magazines.

When some time has passed and you’ve had a chance to establish your new normal, you can start reflecting on where you’d like to spend your next chapter. You and your spouse did many things together, which may have left you with a smaller sphere than others and a need for social connection. Lifestyle-driven communities with vibrant recreational programs may be able to provide a fulfilling outlet for your next 50 years. Think of it like summer camp for retirees, but with pickleball, bridge club and wine tasting, rather than knot-tying and swimming lessons. If you decide to sell your home down the road, it will help finance your future. 

PRO TIP: Grieving is personal and shouldn’t be dictated by the calendar. Don’t worry about making a major change until you feel comfortable and motivated to do so. Until then, you need to give yourself space to figure out how and where you want to spend the coming years. #Advice #AskDavid #TheNegotiator

David is a top-selling Broker in Kitchener-Waterloo Region. He works personally with you when selling or buying your home. Call or text today for your free home evaluation! 519-577-1212.