Warning. Some swearing.
As I said in part 1, people have some odd perceptions of widows. There is an idea that widows, especially widows without children, cash in pensions and life insurance and live giddily, splashing the cash and living the life of Riley. Flash car. Foreign holiday.
This idea of all widows being wealthy is far from the truth. In the UK in 2021, over 1.5 million widows lost out on pension income after their partners died, and 59% experienced a sharp drop in income following bereavement. People who are widowed lose their partner's income. Especially if they are not married, they may not get access to their partner's pension or life insurance. Unmarried widows may also lose their home. Bereavement support payments only go to people who are married or civil partnered.
Some of us, after we were widowed, did press the Fuck-It button a few times. A new car (or a car new to us). A holiday. Gorgeous boots.* But being a widow is pretty shitty, and that little fizz of dopamine is sometimes just what we need. But still. I think I speak for pretty much all of us when I say that we would rather live in rags and in a cardboard box with the person we loved than have all the money in the world.
*Yes. That one was me.
You can get a Funeral Expenses Payment from the government if you get certain benefits. This money can go towards:
The payment can be claimed within 6 months of the funeral. You can claim by phone or post. The money will be deducted from any money that you get from your partner's estate, not including a house or personal things.
You can get Bereavement Support Payments from the government. This is not a means tested payment, and is open to people whose husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months, provided that the late partner paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year, or if they died because of a work-related disease or accident. You will get £2,500 as an initial payment, and £100 a month.
Claiming within 3 months of the death means that you will get the full amount, but you can claim up to 21 months after their death. You can apply online, by phone or by post.
The cost of living is climbing, and that puts a squeeze on all of us. Here are some hints and tips that might help a little, and some of them will help the planet too.
People who are widowed don't just lose their partner – they lose their partner's income, and may lose access to their partner's pension and their home. These are part of the secondary losses. Money is the last thing we want to have to worry about while we are grieving.
Benefits and grants
Make sure that you are claiming all the benefits that you are due. The Citizens Advice Bureau can help. For new widows, there are some specific benefits, including the funeral expenses payment and the bereavement support payment. The support payment is currently only due to husbands, wives and civil partners, but this is set to change in 2022.
Heating, lighting and hot water
Broadband, phone and TV
Budgeting, saving and borrowing
Citizens Advice: If you are struggling with living costs
Martin Lewis' MoneySavingExpert website, including Tips, Tricks and Treats
StepChange, a debt charity
Money Advice Trust
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.