How to move forward after tragedy strikes


We’ve touched on how to move forward after a crisis, job loss and money mistakes. For the final article in our Moving Forward series, we look at how to rebuild financially after unexpected tragedies.  

Life throws a lot at us – often all at once – and it’s immensely difficult to move on after something tragic happens. Thinking about money might be the last thing on your mind when someone close to you falls ill or passes away, however, taking some small steps can help you feel on top of your finances and give you one less thing to worry about.  

Our research has found that money and our physical, mental, emotional and social health are closely connected. By getting on top of things financially, you’ll be helping your overall wellbeing.  

Important note: If you have recently lost someone close to you, the content of this piece may trigger some strong emotions. Feel free to read some of our other blogs instead and come back to this one when you’re ready.  

Infographic how to move forward after tragedy Financial Services Council New Zealand

Be realistic and figure out your priorities 

Life can feel overwhelming in the wake of a tragic event such as the death of a close family member. In addition to the stress of dealing with so many emotions, there are unfortunately a lot of practical things to deal with that can often feel insurmountable with everything else going on.  

Give yourself permission to take a breath. Moving forward in the wake of a tragedy is not going to happen overnight. So ask yourself: what can you leave for now, or give someone else to do? Focus only on the most important, urgent tasks. Things like paying your bills and meeting your rent or mortgage repayments are crucial. Some other things you can probably leave for a while.  


Take care of yourself as much as you can 

Looking after yourself is crucial in the aftermath of a tragic event. Try to make sure you move your body in some way each day, get a bit of fresh air, sleep and spend time with loved ones – whatever you need to get through the day. Try to take some time off work, even if it’s just a few days. This will give you some time to process and get on top of things.  


Don’t be afraid to ask for support 

If you’ve suffered a significant financial setback and are struggling to pay your bills and other living costs, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is plenty of support available for those in similar situations. Talk to your bank or financial institution to find out what options are available for you.  

Similarly, don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. If they offer help, consider taking it. Consider little things that would be a huge help to you; things like having meals made for you and your family, doing your gardening, dropping the kids off at school – small things that might give you the space you need to get on top of other things that are weighing you down.  


Take advantage of free advice 

Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone; there are other Kiwis who are going through similar situations and there is support out there for people just like you. Visit your local Citizens Advice Bureau, contact MoneyTalks or jump onto Sorted for free tips, tools and support that won’t put you under more financial strain.  


Accept that your financial goals may need to change 

When tragedy strikes, it can uproot our entire lives. Visions and ideas about things we wanted to accomplish can sometimes go out the window. We may need to compromise, give up certain things, or face a changed reality. It can also affect our financial goals, and that's okay. You might need to dip into your savings to get by for a while (which is where an emergency fund – if you have one – really helps!) Perhaps you’ll need to direct some of your savings towards more urgent priorities for a few months, and that’s okay. Once you start to get back on your feet again, you can go back to how things were; or adapt to new circumstances. Life changes, we change, and sometimes our finances have to change with us.  


Disclaimer: This information is general information only. It is not intended to constitute financial advice and does not take your individual circumstances and financial situation into account. We encourage you to seek assistance from a trusted financial adviser or other professional advice. The links that are provided are additional resources that you access at your own risk and the FSC takes no responsibility for any third party content. The FSC and its employees make no express or implied representations or give any warranties regarding this information and we accept no responsibility for any loss, damage, cost, or expense (whether direct or indirect) incurred by you as a result of any error, omission, or misrepresentation in this information. 20 Jan 2021. 

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