THIS ARTICLE IS THE FIRST OF TWO FOR WOMEN | WEALTH | WELLNESS
With the four-year mark looming, Cassie is thinking back on her husband’s tragic accident and funeral.
“That whole week is a blur, but I remember a few things.
“I remember thinking: This can’t be real. This has to be a mistake.
“I remember sweet friends showing up. Ten thousand hugs—at least. Co-workers and neighbors delivering casseroles and gift cards. People saying, “I’m so, so sorry.” I guess those are the things we do when we don’t know what else to do, right?
“And I have a memory from the visitation. I looked up and saw my neighbors in line. And maybe because she’s a lawyer and he’s a financial planner, suddenly I’m standing there obsessing over wills and bills! On the outside, I’m greeting people. On the inside, my brain is a blizzard of thoughts: David’s will is one of those online things—is that going to be a problem? Why didn’t we have more insurance? Are we going to be okay financially? What if we have to sell the house?
“I know you can’t totally prepare for a tragedy. But looking back, I wish we’d been better prepared.”
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Whether it’s the sudden shock of an accident or the long goodbye of a terminal illness, the pain of losing a spouse is indescribable.
At Argent, we understand the confusion and fear that accompanies such loss. That’s because a number of us have buried spouses or other loved ones. And in our work, we frequently walk with clients through their grief and help them learn to live life differently.
Here’s what we’ve learned: Though nothing can erase the heartache of a loved one’s passing, there are practical things you can do to make such a tragedy less stressful. Doing these things is critical. When you’re reeling emotionally, you don’t need financial and estate headaches, too.
Recently we gathered three Argent leaders who have experienced grief to talk about the two things every woman needs when tragedy strikes—a wise plan and an expert team.
Why are you so passionate about helping clients—especially women—face the loss of a spouse?
Kathy Christoffel: You can’t be in this business without being compassionate. I believe that’s one of my strengths. I lost my mother when I was 19, so I’ve kind of lived a life of reaching out and caring about those who are hurting.
Jodi Penn Rives: When my husband died after a terminal diagnosis, I struggled just opening the door and walking into the house.
But one of the gifts of an illness is that it gives you time to prepare. I think back on the wise counsel we received. Because of that, we were well-prepared, legally and financially. So many people don’t have that experience. Many women don’t have wills—nor do their husbands—because they put things off on their “to do” list.
Add all the healthcare decisions when a person is in the end stages of their life and it’s overwhelming. It’s hard to think about anything else. So, I love helping people on the front side of that.
What lessons did you learn in your own experiences with grief?
Linda Baker: So much of the time, we women feel like we must keep going. Many times, that defers dealing with the grief as we should—especially when there are children in the household.
Kathy Christoffel: So true, Linda. When we lost my adult daughter in 2020, I remember thinking, Okay. Everyone is a mess. Someone has to do something! I got busy. And I’m pretty sure my busyness was a diversion, me trying to escape.
Thankfully, my primary care physician made sure I got a therapist immediately. And my therapist said, “Kathy, you’ve got to stop trying to help everybody else. Your job is not to help everybody through this. You need to take a break.”
My daughter has been gone for a year and a half now, and I’m finally doing self-care. I’m able to say no to some things and just look out for myself. That’s so important.
What “experts” should be part of one’s team for navigating loss?
Kathy Christoffel: I mentioned a therapist and a primary care physician. If you’re part of a faith community, a clergy person can be extremely helpful too. The sooner you can get those people involved, the better.
Jodi Penn Rives: On the financial side, I believe your team consists of your attorney, CPA, any business partners and your trust company, if you’ve already established a relationship with one.
After my husband learned he was sick, he scheduled a day of meetings with different business partners, our CPA, and attorney so we could discuss the business continuation plan.
Mike was a person that really thought things through. He also knew there was no cure for his cancer and he wanted to finish well.
Linda Baker: I recommend bringing in your insurance agent, too. Whether life, health or property insurance, it’s important to loop them in as well.
Jodi Penn Rives: I tell clients, “Establish your team, then trust the team you’ve empowered.” When you only talk to friends and family, you hear wild stories and differing opinions —and that can be confusing.
Vet the people you let into your circle. Make sure they respect each other. You don’t want an attorney that has a contentious relationship with your CPA. Build your team. Then trust them to do the job of helping you.
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At Argent Financial, we know nothing can ever take away the pain of a loved one’s passing. But there are practical things we can do on the front end to make the aftermath of such a tragedy less complicated.
Grief is less stressful when you have a plan and a team.
Call today at 800.375.4646 to speak to one of our professionals. We can help you be proactive so that you have a wise plan and an expert team for navigating loss.
Linda Baker has over 37 years’ experience in the financial services industry and joined Argent Trust Company in 2018. She serves as Market President in our Dallas, TX office. She buried her stepson in 1995 and has since lost several family members.
Kathy Christoffel lives and works in Fort Worth, TX, where she serves as Market President. She has over 30 years’ experience; Kathy has lost several family members, including an adult daughter in 2020.
Jodi Penn Rives has served as business development officer since joining Argent in 2019. Jodi was widowed in 2012 and leads Argent’s focus on
Women | Wealth | Wellness.