Learn and Plan | Dealing with grief after a loss: how life insurance can help
An older woman looks somberly at a photo of a loved one.

Dealing with grief after a loss: how life insurance can help

Jun 9, 2023, 8:30:56 PM | Reading Time: 5 minutes

When we lose a loved one, we often go through a whole range of emotions and processing grief can look very different from person to person. Coping with a loss is often paired with trying to establish a new normal and finding a way to carry on after someone is gone. Along with the emotional stress, a loss can also be very financially overwhelming, especially if there is no plan in place to cover expenses and day-to-day bills. Life insurance is designed to help replace crucial income, pay for funeral costs, and alleviate some of the financial hardship that can follow the loss of a loved one. Here is a closer look at how to cope when someone you love has died and ways that life insurance can ease the burden during this difficult time.

Coping with the loss of a loved one

Dealing with loss, especially immediately following a loved one’s death, can be an all-consuming experience. Along with sorrow, you may feel anger, anxiety, guilt, fear, or disbelief. You may also experience physical symptoms like loss of appetite, sleep difficulties, and feeling unwell. These are all completely normal reactions to loss and you should never feel ashamed for how you feel or your journey through grief.

In the January 10, 2023 article “Coping with Grief and Loss: by Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, PH.D., they cite a study by psychiatrist Dr. Kubler-Ross who introduced the “five stages of grief” which has become a common framework for the feelings people experience following a loss. The five stages include:

  1. Denial: This can’t be happening to me
  2. Anger: Why has this happened? This is unfair and unjust
  3. Bargaining: What if I had done this…I could have changed the outcome
  4. Depression: I am too sad to do anything or participate in life
  5. Acceptance: I am at peace with what happened

Remember, grief is a very personal experience and you may go through all of these stages, only a few, or jump back and forth between them. Give yourself the space and time to process the way that’s best for you.

What is the best way to deal with grief?

There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief, but there are some actions you can take that can help you process your loss and offer you support as you heal and step into your next chapter.

Honor customs and celebrate life

However your family, culture, or religion chooses to honor someone who has passed; taking part in this ritual can be a meaningful way to celebrate the life of your loved one and begin to come to terms with their departure. As time goes on, you may want to find ways to recognize this person every year; even if it’s a small ritual you do within your own family to keep their memory alive.

Express your grief

Holding your feelings inside can often cause more distress and hold you back from processing your loss. If you feel comfortable, try talking with family or friends, a grief counselor, or a therapist. You can also journal about your experience or write a letter to your loved one who passed. Oftentimes, sharing your emotions can relieve some of the pain of this difficult time.

Seek help

Beyond seeking emotional support, you may also need to turn to someone you trust to help with any immediate decisions. When dealing with grief, having to confront any challenges, especially financial ones, may just feel too overwhelming. Find a friend or family member who can help you map out the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, and determine a necessary plan and timeframe. Creating a strategy may give you a little more time to get in a better headspace to make important decisions. One way to help protect your family from financial hardship and having to make immediate decisions during a difficult time is through life insurance protection. Acting as a financial safety net, benefits from a policy can be used for a variety of purposes and allow surviving family members to focus on remembering their loved one instead of worrying about money.

How life Insurance can help with funeral expenses

Upon the death of an insured person, the beneficiary—typically a spouse, partner, or family member—will file a claim with the life insurance company. Typically paid in a lump sum benefit, this money can then be used to pay for a funeral, burial, and other final expenses.

What does life insurance cover?

Along with paying for a departed family member’s final expenses, life insurance benefits can be used to pay medical bills, cover day-to-day expenses like the rent or mortgage, pay off debt, create an emergency fund, or to put funds toward retirement or a child’s education. Some policies even offer living benefits, where the insured can access a portion of the death benefit while they’re still alive and are diagnosed with a qualifying illness.

How life insurance helps families cope

By alleviating some of the financial stress that can often follow the loss of a loved one, family members can spend less time worrying about paying bills or having to make an immediate decision like moving or selling their house and can spend more time processing their grief and making room to in order to heal.

Grieving the loss of a loved one is one of the hardest and most painful parts of life, but also a universal experience we all face. Whether someone you love had a life insurance policy or you’re looking for ways to protect your family from the unexpected, life insurance coverage can help create a more secure future, and lessen the stress and uncertainty of the grieving process.