How to live after the death of a spouse

How to live after the death of a spouse

Survivors of deceased military members and veterans are entitled to several forms of compensation. These include Dependent Indemnity Compensation, a Death Gratuity payment and Tricare benefits.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

DIC is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of a:

  • Military service member who died while on active duty, OR
  • Veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease, OR
  • Veteran whose death resulted from a non service-related injury or disease, and who was receiving, or was entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling for at least 10 years immediately before death, OR since the veteran’s release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death, OR for at least one year before death if the veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after Sep. 30, 1999.

Death Gratuity

The death gratuity is a tax-free payment of $100,000 that is paid to survivors of the following armed service members:

  • A member who dies while on active duty or while on authorized travel
  • A reservist who dies while on inactive duty training or on authorized travel
  • A ROTC member who dies while performing annual training duty under orders for a period of more than 13 days, or on authorized travel
  • A person who has been accepted to active duty and dies while traveling to or from that place or under orders

Death Pension

Death Pension is a benefit paid to eligible dependents of deceased wartime veterans. You may be eligible if:

  • The deceased veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
  • They served 90 days or more of active duty with at least 1 day during a period of war time (however, the law requires that anyone who enlists after Sep. 7, 1980 generally has to serve at least 24 months or their full enlistment in order to receive any benefits based on that period of service. AND
  • You are the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, AND
  • Your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law.

Tricare

Surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased active duty or retired service members are eligible if the sponsor was serving or was ordered to active duty for more than 30 days at time of death.

  • Claims will be cost-shared at the active duty family member rate for three years after death of active duty sponsor, and thereafter at the retiree rate.
  • Widows or widowers remain eligible until they remarry (loss of benefits remains applicable even if remarriage ends in death or divorce).
  • Children remain eligible until age 21, unless they meet the exceptions above.

Basic Allowance for Housing

The spouse and children of a deceased service member living in government quarters are entitled to either remain in government housing for 365 days, or to relocate to private quarters and receive a one year of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) as appropriate. To receive this allowance for private quarters, the service member must have been eligible to receive those allowances for his or her dependents at the time of death.

Source Article

By Chelsea Hanson | Submitted On May 18, 2012

How to live after the death of a spouseIt doesn’t matter if you were married for 1 year or 50, losing your spouse is one of the most painful losses we could ever endure. Your spouse is your partner in life, your best friend, your soul mate. Having all of that taken from you can leave you feeling lost and very alone. But you can and you will go on living after your spouse has passed. Here are 3 tips to help you grieve your loss and go on living after the death of your spouse.

Call in Support

Don’t feel like you have to go through this alone. It’s true that you are the only one who has lost a spouse, but other people have lost a loved one as a result of your spouse’s death too. Reach out to your in-laws for support throughout the grieving process. Draw upon your family and close friends to help you. Whether you need your sister to take the kids for the day, or just a friend to talk to, figure out your support groups and don’t be shy about calling on them to help you through this tragedy.

Acknowledge Those Special Days

You spent so much time with your spouse, everything is going to remind you of him or her in their absence. The most heart-wrenching reminders will come on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. These days are going to be tough, especially in the first year or two. Many people find that if they acknowledge these days and choose to celebrate them, it helps to mitigate the sadness on those inevitable annual events. If there was a certain restaurant you and your spouse went to on special dates, make it a point to go there on your anniversary. Or you could have a family dinner to celebrate your spouse’s birthday. Celebrating these events is a nice way to keep their memory alive and help you get through the day.

Starting Over

As you begin to recover from the loss of your spouse, you’ll probably feel as if you’re starting over with everything. You did everything with your spouse before, so learning to do those things by yourself or with someone else in their place will take some time to get used to. Starting over does not mean you have to forget about your loved one. Many people feel this way and it results in feelings of guilt as they begin to recover and move on with their lives. But the reality is, you can’t expect to just pick up your life where you left off before the death of your spouse. Your life is going to be different now, so it’s okay to start over and move on with your new life. Make an effort to start new traditions and meet new people. Your spouse would want you to be happy again, even if it means starting over without them.

The bond between a husband and wife is so unique and so special, that it hurts all the more when that bond is broken in death. Although your spouse is no longer with you physically, you will always have the memory of the love you shared. As Alfred Lord Tennyson so beautifully put it, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Home » Redefining Your Life After The Loss of a Spouse

The inconceivable has occurred – your partner has died. Perhaps, it was sudden and unexpected. However, even if it took place after an illness or at an older age, your loss surely came too prematurely from your point of view.

Your life is now changed forever. Consequently, you may feel that you have also lost your purpose and, certainly, you’re confused about what role you should play in the world going forward. For example, you’re no longer a wife or a husband, but you sure feel like one. Through your fog of grief, it can be nearly impossible to envision a life without your partner by your side.

The redefining (and the subsequent need to reconfigure) your life after loss is one of the more overwhelming aspects of losing a spouse. As part of the grief process, it’s necessary to accept that your life will never return to the way it was before your loss. Correspondingly, YOU also will not return completely to the way you were during your partnership.

So comes the question: “What do I do now?” compounded by the inevitable one of: “Who am I now?”

While you may have to figure out “what to do” rather quickly, figuring out the “who you are now” is usually a slow process. Often, it starts to happen naturally vs. from any deliberate actions you take. Matter of fact, the experience of more loss (for example, old friends who reject you) may simply be nature’s way of pushing you towards a better place and towards a more empathetic community of friends.

1. Consequently, you may find that the dynamics of old time friendships begin to shift. Couple friends seem to fall by the wayside – many because they feel uncomfortable with you and others because you feel you have less in common and, thus, feel uncomfortable with them.

2. If you were widowed young, you may have friends who are in the midst of celebratory stages, such as getting engaged, married, having children, etc. In contrast, you’re embarking upon a stage which neither you nor your peers expected to reach for a very long time. Even though you’re happy for your friends, it may still be hard for you to participate in all these joyous celebrations. And if you do participate and put on a happy face, this further goes towards you feeling a sense of alienation from them.

3. This next point is pretty sad; some of your friends may find that confronting your reality makes them feel emotionally uneasy. Thus, they may choose to spend less time with you. In this scenario, it’s not about you; it’s all about them and their feelings. And, of course, there are also those who simply don’t know what to do or say, so they just disappear without a word.

Beyond your relationships, you might also notice that you want to change other facets of your life. For example, you may find it difficult to concentrate at work, or you may no longer feel fulfilled by your job.

Here are some things you might want to consider:

1. When it comes to your career, you may decide you want to do something more meaningful. For example, you may want to make it your life’s purpose to support the disease (and work towards a cure) from which your spouse died.

2. You may want to further involve yourself with certain hobbies and make it a career. On the other hand, things in which you once found joy may no longer interest you or you may not have patience for them.

3. You may want to support a cause of your late partner’s in order to carry on his/her legacy.

4. If you neglected your health while caring for a late partner, you may want to start to focus on your physicality. Pushing your limits, you may contemplate participating in feats you never thought possible – for example, running a marathon, rock climbing or bicycle racing. Due to the mind/body wellness connection, the building of your physical muscles will help to strengthen your emotional muscles too.

Here’s the bottom line – grieving is hard, and the inevitable changes that come packaged with your initial loss make it even harder to bear.

Keep in mind that change is not a dirty word! It stretches you and makes you more awake to life because you’re now paying close attention to what is happening in front of you. These changes will occur in different ways. Some may be deliberate, some unintentional, some slow to happen and others overnight, some undesirable, and some exciting and yearned for. All of them together will help you to gain clarity on the “new you.”

Unfortunately, you were not given a choice to take this journey. Your power lies in how well you’re able to embrace it, which will allow you to reap all the benefits available to you. As with every endeavor you undertake, your success will be based on your attitude and perspective.

I love what Richard Bach wrote: “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” How will you choose to look at your world – as a caterpillar or a butterfly?

Home » Redefining Your Life After The Loss of a Spouse

The inconceivable has occurred – your partner has died. Perhaps, it was sudden and unexpected. However, even if it took place after an illness or at an older age, your loss surely came too prematurely from your point of view.

Your life is now changed forever. Consequently, you may feel that you have also lost your purpose and, certainly, you’re confused about what role you should play in the world going forward. For example, you’re no longer a wife or a husband, but you sure feel like one. Through your fog of grief, it can be nearly impossible to envision a life without your partner by your side.

The redefining (and the subsequent need to reconfigure) your life after loss is one of the more overwhelming aspects of losing a spouse. As part of the grief process, it’s necessary to accept that your life will never return to the way it was before your loss. Correspondingly, YOU also will not return completely to the way you were during your partnership.

So comes the question: “What do I do now?” compounded by the inevitable one of: “Who am I now?”

While you may have to figure out “what to do” rather quickly, figuring out the “who you are now” is usually a slow process. Often, it starts to happen naturally vs. from any deliberate actions you take. Matter of fact, the experience of more loss (for example, old friends who reject you) may simply be nature’s way of pushing you towards a better place and towards a more empathetic community of friends.

1. Consequently, you may find that the dynamics of old time friendships begin to shift. Couple friends seem to fall by the wayside – many because they feel uncomfortable with you and others because you feel you have less in common and, thus, feel uncomfortable with them.

2. If you were widowed young, you may have friends who are in the midst of celebratory stages, such as getting engaged, married, having children, etc. In contrast, you’re embarking upon a stage which neither you nor your peers expected to reach for a very long time. Even though you’re happy for your friends, it may still be hard for you to participate in all these joyous celebrations. And if you do participate and put on a happy face, this further goes towards you feeling a sense of alienation from them.

3. This next point is pretty sad; some of your friends may find that confronting your reality makes them feel emotionally uneasy. Thus, they may choose to spend less time with you. In this scenario, it’s not about you; it’s all about them and their feelings. And, of course, there are also those who simply don’t know what to do or say, so they just disappear without a word.

Beyond your relationships, you might also notice that you want to change other facets of your life. For example, you may find it difficult to concentrate at work, or you may no longer feel fulfilled by your job.

Here are some things you might want to consider:

1. When it comes to your career, you may decide you want to do something more meaningful. For example, you may want to make it your life’s purpose to support the disease (and work towards a cure) from which your spouse died.

2. You may want to further involve yourself with certain hobbies and make it a career. On the other hand, things in which you once found joy may no longer interest you or you may not have patience for them.

3. You may want to support a cause of your late partner’s in order to carry on his/her legacy.

4. If you neglected your health while caring for a late partner, you may want to start to focus on your physicality. Pushing your limits, you may contemplate participating in feats you never thought possible – for example, running a marathon, rock climbing or bicycle racing. Due to the mind/body wellness connection, the building of your physical muscles will help to strengthen your emotional muscles too.

Here’s the bottom line – grieving is hard, and the inevitable changes that come packaged with your initial loss make it even harder to bear.

Keep in mind that change is not a dirty word! It stretches you and makes you more awake to life because you’re now paying close attention to what is happening in front of you. These changes will occur in different ways. Some may be deliberate, some unintentional, some slow to happen and others overnight, some undesirable, and some exciting and yearned for. All of them together will help you to gain clarity on the “new you.”

Unfortunately, you were not given a choice to take this journey. Your power lies in how well you’re able to embrace it, which will allow you to reap all the benefits available to you. As with every endeavor you undertake, your success will be based on your attitude and perspective.

I love what Richard Bach wrote: “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” How will you choose to look at your world – as a caterpillar or a butterfly?

Few life events are as painful as the death of your husband, wife or partner.

You may be uncertain how you will survive this overwhelming loss. You may even question if you have the energy or desire to try. These 8 practical suggestions may help you move toward healing.

  1. Allow Yourself to Grieve – Your partner has died. If you feel confused, that’s OK; you have lost a part of yourself. You are now faced with the difficult but important need to mourn. Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings. It is an essential part of healing.
  2. Grieve in Your Own Way – Your experience is influenced by the circumstances surrounding the death, other losses you have experienced, your emotional support system and your cultural and faith background. Don’t compare your experience with that of others. Take a one-day-at-a-time approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.
  3. Talk Out Your Thoughts and Feelings – Healing starts when you can share your grief with others. Allow yourself to talk about the death, your feelings of loss and loneliness and the special things you miss about your partner.
  4. Feel a Mixture of Emotions – Experiencing any death affects your head, heart and spirit. Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt, relief and anger are just a few of the emotions you may feel. Don’t be overwhelmed if you suddenly experience periods of pain or grief that seem to come from nowhere. Allowing yourself to learn from these feelings and emotions helps you heal.
  5. Find a Support System – Reach out to people who care about you and are willing to walk with you through your grief. Find a support group you might want to attend. Avoid people who are critical, judgmental or who want to give advice. You have the right to express your grief, but you also have the right not to share.
  6. Grief Is Hard Work – Grief is emotional and physical. You feel and lives through your emotional, physical and spiritual being. Respect what your body is telling you. Treat yourself as you would a good friend.
  7. Do Things When the Time Is Right – There are things you must do right away, but for the most part, don’t make yourself do anything until you are ready. You can make some decisions now and wait before making other decisions. Don’t let others make decisions for you.
  8. Celebrate Your Memories – The times you will miss your partner most are the special days the two of you shared. Since pain and loss can be greater during those times, it might help to be with someone else. Share your memories with friends, if you wish, but continue to honor the life you and your spouse shared by keeping a special place in your heart to celebrate and cherish your memories of togetherness.

How to live after the death of a spouse

How Do You Survive Financially after Death of a Spouse ?

  • Post author:David Parker
  • Post published: August 9, 2021
  • Post category:Estate Planning / Retirement

The financial issues that arise following the death of a spouse range from the simple—figuring out how to access online bill payment for utilities—to the complex—understanding estate and inheritance taxes. The first year after the death of a spouse is a time when surviving spouses are often fragile and vulnerable. It’s not the time to make any major financial or life decisions, says the article “The Financial Effects of Losing a Spouse” from Yahoo! Finance.

Tax implications following the death of a spouse. A drop in household income often means the surviving spouse needs to withdraw money from retirement accounts. While taxes may be lowered because of the drop in income, withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s that are not Roth accounts are taxable. However, less income might mean that the surviving spouse’s income is low enough to qualify for certain tax deductions or credits that otherwise they would not be eligible for.

Surviving spouses eventually have a different filing status. As long as the surviving spouse has not remarried in the year of death of their spouse, they are permitted to file a federal joint tax return. This may be an option for two more years, if there is a dependent child. However, after that, taxes must be filed as a single taxpayer, which means tax rates are not as favorable as they are for a couple filing jointly. The standard deduction is also lowered for a single person.

If the spouse inherits a traditional IRA, the surviving spouse may elect to be designated as the account owner, roll funds into their own retirement account, or be treated as a beneficiary. Which option is chosen will impact both the required minimum distribution (RMD) and the surviving spouse’s taxable income. If the spouse decides to become the designated owner of the original account or rolls the account into their own IRA, they may take RMDs based on their own life expectancy. If they chose the beneficiary route, RMDs are based on the life expectancy of the deceased spouse. Most people opt to roll the IRA into their own IRA or transfer it into an account in their own name.

The surviving spouse receives a stepped-up basis in other inherited property. If the assets are held jointly between spouses, there’s a step up in one half of the basis. However, if the asset was owned solely by the deceased spouse, the step up is 100%. In community property states, the total fair market value of property, including the portion that belongs to the surviving spouse, becomes the basis for the entire property, if at least half of its value is included in the deceased spouse’s gross estate. Your estate planning attorney will help prepare for this beforehand, or help you navigate this issue after the death of a spouse.

It should be noted there is a special rule that helps surviving spouses who wish to sell their home. Up to $250,000 of gain from the sale of a principal residence is tax-free, if certain conditions are met. The exemption increases to $500,000 for married couples filing a joint return, but a surviving spouse who has not remarried may still claim the $500,000 exemption, if the home is sold within two years of the spouses’ passing.

There is an unlimited marital deduction in addition to the current $11.7 million estate tax exemption. If the deceased’s estate is not near that amount, the surviving spouse should file form 706 to elect portability of their deceased spouse’s unused exemption. This protects the surviving spouse if the exemption is lowered, which may happen in the near future. If you don’t file in a timely manner, you’ll lose this exemption, so don’t neglect this task.

How to live after the death of a spouse

How Do You Survive Financially after Death of a Spouse ?

  • Post author:David Parker
  • Post published: August 9, 2021
  • Post category:Estate Planning / Retirement

The financial issues that arise following the death of a spouse range from the simple—figuring out how to access online bill payment for utilities—to the complex—understanding estate and inheritance taxes. The first year after the death of a spouse is a time when surviving spouses are often fragile and vulnerable. It’s not the time to make any major financial or life decisions, says the article “The Financial Effects of Losing a Spouse” from Yahoo! Finance.

Tax implications following the death of a spouse. A drop in household income often means the surviving spouse needs to withdraw money from retirement accounts. While taxes may be lowered because of the drop in income, withdrawals from IRAs and 401(k)s that are not Roth accounts are taxable. However, less income might mean that the surviving spouse’s income is low enough to qualify for certain tax deductions or credits that otherwise they would not be eligible for.

Surviving spouses eventually have a different filing status. As long as the surviving spouse has not remarried in the year of death of their spouse, they are permitted to file a federal joint tax return. This may be an option for two more years, if there is a dependent child. However, after that, taxes must be filed as a single taxpayer, which means tax rates are not as favorable as they are for a couple filing jointly. The standard deduction is also lowered for a single person.

If the spouse inherits a traditional IRA, the surviving spouse may elect to be designated as the account owner, roll funds into their own retirement account, or be treated as a beneficiary. Which option is chosen will impact both the required minimum distribution (RMD) and the surviving spouse’s taxable income. If the spouse decides to become the designated owner of the original account or rolls the account into their own IRA, they may take RMDs based on their own life expectancy. If they chose the beneficiary route, RMDs are based on the life expectancy of the deceased spouse. Most people opt to roll the IRA into their own IRA or transfer it into an account in their own name.

The surviving spouse receives a stepped-up basis in other inherited property. If the assets are held jointly between spouses, there’s a step up in one half of the basis. However, if the asset was owned solely by the deceased spouse, the step up is 100%. In community property states, the total fair market value of property, including the portion that belongs to the surviving spouse, becomes the basis for the entire property, if at least half of its value is included in the deceased spouse’s gross estate. Your estate planning attorney will help prepare for this beforehand, or help you navigate this issue after the death of a spouse.

It should be noted there is a special rule that helps surviving spouses who wish to sell their home. Up to $250,000 of gain from the sale of a principal residence is tax-free, if certain conditions are met. The exemption increases to $500,000 for married couples filing a joint return, but a surviving spouse who has not remarried may still claim the $500,000 exemption, if the home is sold within two years of the spouses’ passing.

There is an unlimited marital deduction in addition to the current $11.7 million estate tax exemption. If the deceased’s estate is not near that amount, the surviving spouse should file form 706 to elect portability of their deceased spouse’s unused exemption. This protects the surviving spouse if the exemption is lowered, which may happen in the near future. If you don’t file in a timely manner, you’ll lose this exemption, so don’t neglect this task.

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Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

How to live after the death of a spouse

Michael Heim / Getty Images

What Is the Widowhood Effect?

The widowhood effect is a phenomenon in which older people who have lost a spouse have an increased risk of dying themselves. Research suggests that this risk is highest during the first three months following the death of a spouse.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Public Health found that people whose spouses had just died have a whopping 66% increased chance of dying within the first three months following their spouse’s death. Prior studies had placed the increased chances of death for the surviving spouse even higher at up to 90%.

Who Is Affected?

Although previous research had reported that men face a greater risk than women of dying soon after a spouse, the 2014 study found equal chances for men and women. It also found that after the first three months, there was still about a 15% increased chance of dying for the surviving spouse.

It seems logical to assume that spouses who were in a close marital relationship will be more depressed following widowhood, and research has backed that up. Perhaps more surprisingly, surviving spouses who owned homes tended to be more depressed, perhaps because they were worried about shouldering the responsibility of caring for the house.

Meanwhile, women who were dependent on their husbands for financial tasks and home maintenance chores tended to have more post-widowhood anxiety, for understandable reasons, research has shown.

Research suggests that sudden, unexpected death may be more stressful for a surviving spouse, but this also varies depending on an individual’s situation. The lack of time to prepare often means that the surviving partner abruptly loses both financial and emotional support.

Men tend to experience worse outcomes when their spouse dies abruptly because they lose their primary source of social support. Women appear to experience worse outcomes when a lengthy illness precedes their partner’s death due to chronic stress.

Impact of the Widowhood Effect

No one knows what causes this increased risk of death for the surviving spouse. Researchers have suggested a few explanations to explain the widowhood effect. These include:

  • The shared household characteristics of both partners may play a role in elevated mortality rates.
  • The stress of caring for a ill and dying partner may make a person more susceptible to death.
  • People may chnge their health behaviors following the death of their partner, which elevates their own risk of dying. Surviving spouses stop paying attention to their own health and well-being as their partners’ health deteriorates.
  • People also experience changes in their living environment after the death of their spouse, which might impact mortality.

In any case, stress certainly plays a part. The effects of grief can be both physical and emotional. Among some of the symptoms of grief include:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Digestive problems
  • Lack of energy
  • Illness and decreased immunity
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Weight gain or loss

Other studies have looked at the cause of death for the widowed spouse to see if people with certain conditions have a higher risk of dying. It’s a complicated analysis.

A study in 2008 found that widowed men have a much higher risk of dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, an accident or serious fracture, infection, or sepsis in the months following their wives’ deaths. Meanwhile, the same study found that widowed women have a much higher risk of dying from COPD, colon cancer, accidents or serious fractures, or lung cancer in the months following their husbands’ deaths.

Help for the Recently Widowed

The loss of a spouse can be devastating, but many older people also bounce back more quickly than some might think. Researchers have shown that they tend to regain their earlier levels of health (both physical and psychological health) within about 18 months of their spouse’s death.

There are a number of things that people can do to cope in the wake of losing their partner. Some things that may help include:

  • Find support. Social support can help to counter the widowhood effect. If your spouse has just passed away, and you find yourself struggling, reach out to your family and friends for help.
  • Find ways to fill your time. Losing your partner can upend many of your routines and leave an empty space in your life. Finding ways to stay busy and fill your time can help. Pursuing hobbies, going out with friends, and volunteering in your community are just a few things you might try.
  • Go at your own pace. Everyone copes with grief and loss differently, so don’t pressure yourself to deal with things or “move on” on a specific timeline.
  • Talk to a professional. Discussing your emotions and experiences with a mental health professional can help you integrate the loss with your life and move forward in a way that will help you adjust to the changes in your life.

In the immediate aftermath of a loss, offering practical assistance such as preparing meals, helping with errands, and taking care of household chores can be enormously helpful. Going forward, you can continue to lend assistance by encouraging them to participate in social activities, listening to them, and finding them other resources that they might need for support.

If a family member or a close friend recently has lost their spouse, offering that person support can help them get through one of the toughest possible times in life.