Grief. Guilt. The Unexpected Emotional Gut Punch Of A Life Insurance Cheque

by Richard Dri

When the reality of life insurance sinks in.

You and your spouse both knew that life insurance made perfect sense. Now as a widow or widower, why do you feel so guilty?

I don’t think there’s a person reading this who doesn’t understand that life insurance is one of the most practical purchases anyone could make. It’s our nature to ensure our families are well taken care of, even once we’re gone. Maybe especially after we’re gone.

How much insurance is the right amount of insurance?

When calculating life insurance needs, I start by removing all emotion. That might sound cold and clinical, but it’s basic math.

I use an insurance calculator to determine how much life insurance coverage Spouse A will need if Spouse B dies – then I reverse the calculations to decide the needs of Spouse B if Spouse A dies first.

My objective is simple and rational: to ensure that either spouse has enough money to maintain their lifestyle should the unthinkable occur.

A phrase that was new to me: “Life insurance guilt”

You won’t find the term “life insurance guilt” in a medical journal. But I find it’s a very common issue. And here’s how I came to know it, personally.

My wife of 33 years died of cancer. Not long after that, I receive a life insurance benefit. How big or how small that benefit was, that doesn’t matter. I was wracked with guilt.


I’m a financial advisor. I’ve gone through the clinical steps of discussing life insurance countless times. But still, I was paralyzed by my emotions. I couldn’t think objectively. All I could think of was that the life insurance policy was supposed to help Mary when I died – not the other way around.

What should you do with a life insurance payout?

First of all, any widow or widower receiving a death benefit should deal with the psychological effects before making plans for the money. I can’t stress that enough.


You can contact Richard via Facebook Messenger

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