A group of men spent three days together at a beautiful retreat setting in Montana. They planned, prayed, and dreamed together about the future.
One of the men was a pilot, and he invited three of the others to fly back to Dallas with him. One of the four was an entrepreneur with a young wife and two boys below the age of five. Another was a banker who had three boys, one of whom was in high school and two of whom were in college. The third was a surgeon with three grown children, and the fourth was a pastor who also had three children.
The small plane took off all right, but en route to Dallas it disappeared. Several days later, when the wreckage was found, there were no survivors. In an instant, four women had become widows, and 11 children were left without a father.
I visited with one of the widows many months later, and she said her husband had always told her that in the event of his death, she needn't worry because his best friend knew all about their financial situation. The friend was well prepared to help her cope financially with her husband's death. Unfortunately, however, that friend had been one of the four men on the plane.
Death is rarely expected, so people rarely plan for it adequately. Yet when it occurs, it changes forever the lives – including the financial situations – of those left behind. Even couples who have discussed the financial implications of losing the other may discover their plans are no longer relevant because of those changing circumstances.
Karen Loritts, a regular speaker at Campus Crusade's Family Life conferences, tells the story of a different kind of loss – one that devastated another family. Karen was jarred awake one night by the ringing telephone. A friend of hers was calling in anguish over her marital breakup, which had shocked those who knew the couple. This woman and her husband were both hard workers, and the entire family was active in their church. As Karen listened to her friend pour out her feelings of grief, she silently prayed for words to comfort her friend – and shed some tears herself. "I felt her pain and cried at the prospect of having my friend struggle with this 'death,'" said Karen.
This series of articles is directed at women because far more women than men must navigate the road of widowhood or single parenthood. Seventy percent of all married women will be widowed, and marriages formed today have about a 41 to 43 percent chance of ending in divorce.1 In the vast majority of cases, the mothers are granted primary custody of their children.
Having said that, men who are widowed or divorced often must deal with financial fallout as well. If you are a man in either situation, this series certainly applies to you as well.