Spending All Your Retirement Savings on Health Care?
“My husband and I planned a wonderful retirement, but now I find myself caring for a man with one health problem after another. We never got to take the trips we planned and saved for. This is not the way it was supposed to be. I am angry and disappointed. I just want it all to be over. What can I do to get over this horrible change in plans?” - READER
Life is throwing you a curveball right now. What you planned for is not happening, and you are disappointed. What you are feeling is grief for the loss of your savings and plans. The grief response you are feeling is normal. Who wouldn’t be disappointed and a bit angry? You likely feel that life has robbed you.
Even though your husband is still with you, he is not with you the way you expected him to be, and this is a loss. Do not believe that there is a correct way to feel about it. You are dealing with a setback. It will not be a comfort to you if friends say, “at least you still have him.” Yes, it could be worse, but your dreams have been dashed.
Time to Grieve
Right now, it is okay to give yourself some private time to feel sad about your loss. Remember that your husband is likely feeling the same loss, and he may also feel responsible for causing the loss; therefore, he may be carrying twice the burden. Whether or not he is verbalizing it, he is experiencing the loss also. Please allow the two of you to be disappointed together. Do your best not to blame him for his health issues or the change in plans. It could easily have been you who came down with some horrible disease that disrupted your retirement plans. Life happens, and plans are interrupted all the time. Sometimes the interruptions are good and sometimes they are not.
Making New Plans
After a period of grieving, it will be appropriate for you to create some new plans for the two of you. Those plans may look very different from the trips you were considering taking together, and that is okay. It may involve bringing the children home, or local excursions, or maybe a remodeling project. Only you can decide how to adapt and what will work for you. Maybe you will travel with a friend while a child stays with your husband or pick up a new hobby that you have wanted to explore but were never home to do. Do your best to hunt for some silver lining in all of this. Try to be open to new ideas as you create an alternate plan for the future.
This is a very tough transition period for husband and you right now. You are both disappointed and trying to cope with your loss. Time will pass, and you will get through it and while you are, do not expect each day to be good or easy. Let yourself feel and grieve the loss. When you are able, begin the planning process for a new retirement plan for the two of you.
I wish you the best on this journey we call life.
Family Caregiving Advice Column
Written by CEO, Mary Haynor, this newsletter is packed with useful tips, resources and practices that will make the lives of family caregivers easier.Learn More...
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