Peace of Mind After Losing a Loved One

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Iris and Harold were high school sweethearts who married in 1958 – she was 18 and he was 21. While she stayed home and raised their two children, Harold worked all his life as a machinist and retired two years ago. As in their younger days, Iris and Harold were enjoying retirement by traveling, and also visiting their children and golfing once a week. They were even thinking of leaving Maryland to be closer to their daughter in North Carolina.

Then the phone rang. On the other end was a nurse saying that Harold had been in an accident and that Iris should get to the hospital right away. She did, but it was too late. Her best friend was gone in the blink of an eye, and the life Iris had known for 53 years was over.

Those individuals who have experienced the loss of a spouse understand how it is among the most stressful events in one’s life. Unfortunately, the grief associated with the loss is only the beginning of stress felt by widows and widowers.

For Iris, the stress really hit when she went to the bank and discovered that her name was not on their accounts. She could not even pull money out of the bank for groceries one day. Since Harold had done all the finances for 50 years, Iris realized she was not only unaware of where and what money they had, but she had no income (except his Social Security), and no credit.

It became clear to Iris that they should have met with a financial planner in advance of Harold’s death. Fortunately, a friend from church suggested she meet Nick Cieri, a financial planner at SmithBarney in Timonium. Since Nick had years of experience helping people with family issues and crises even prior to joining Smith Barney, the friend thought that he would have the compassion and insight to handle a recent widow with care.

Though it is strongly suggested that couples seek advice before a crisis, he welcomed working with Iris, understanding the vulnerable position in which she had been left.

He not only provided peace of mind, but helped her feel less overwhelmed and helpless by making sense of the piles of statements and bills. Nick also helped establish credit in her name while making or updating investment and insurance recommendations.

Though Iris suffered a tragic loss, she was able to find a friend, who with his compassion and assistance, felt very much like family.

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