If you are living with a spouse or partner and not earning your own income or independently wealthy, you run the risk of losing everything when your partner dies.

It happened to me.

After my husband, Angel passed away back in 2021, my life went into a tailspin. The financial consequences that arose from his death have been devastating.

A couple years before Angel died, I was alone in the house, recuperating from a broken toe, but happy to have time to myself. It was lunch time, and I hobbled upstairs from my office to make myself something to eat.

I sat in my favorite chair in the living room window and gazed across the top of the hill. I noticed a man getting out of a car walking toward my mailbox.

I told myself I wasn’t going to panic unless he came into my driveway. Then within a few seconds he pulled up at my house and parked his car, about 5′ away from where I was sitting. There was just a wall of windows between us and I could not see him.

All the old triggers from an abusive past flooded my brain. I was out of my mind with fear. My thoughts went crazy thinking of every worst case scenario.

With the sound of my husband’s encouraging voice driving me to move through my fear, I raised myself up to my feet and stood at the window brazenly facing the car. I hoped the driver would fall for my bluff and leave.

I went to reach for my phone to dial the police, but my eyes would not focus. Feeling the position of the numbers, I grabbed my house alarm remote and quickly disarmed it, then rearmed it, which made a loud sound announcing the system was armed.

Tapped out of ideas, I could feel my fear surging through my body. As I stood looking at the driver, I realized he did not know I could not see him. Luckily after about another minute of heart pounding anticipation and deafening silence, he left as quickly as he came. I’ve never seen him again.

That terrifying experience with the unexplained stranger threw me into a panic. The trauma of those few moments unravelled years of personal growth work creating safe spaces for myself and left me with a new fear of being left alone.

After Angel died, my son, PT agreed to stay with me for emotional support until I felt comfortable being on my own and ready to get back on my feet again. Together we’ve been through hell.

Soon after Angel’s death, I lost my appeal for Emergency Rental Assistance Program. When my lease came up for renewal, my landlord refused to renew my lease because I was not earning the same combined income of my husband and I when we rented.

Feeling too consumed with grief and exhaustion to fight back, I felt pressured to move out of my apartment. So as soon as my daughter and son-in-law offered PT and I an opportunity to live with them in their home in Maine, I jumped at it

Now in retrospect I realize that I should never have left New York, because I forfeited my legal rites to an appeal. But it’s a learning experience that will serve others in the future.

As an author, coach and speaker I share whatever lessons I learn with others to help give my readers and clients practical ways to rise above adversity.

I’ve been very blessed to have family that has been incredibly wonderful to help PT and I. But I won’t sugar coat it, getting through this period in my life has probably been the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced.

Over a few short months, I lost my husband, my home, my car, my office and my privacy.

And yet through it all, I figured out a way to thrive and rebuild my independence step by step. You may have made different choices than me, but either way, I want you to know that adversity doesn’t have to knock you down and keep you down. I’m still a work in progress and have so much to learn, but I’m on the right track.

You can get back up. If I can do it, you can too.

Lately PT and I have been loving watching the Rocky moves. Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep on moving forward — how much you can take and keep on moving forward, that’s how winning is done.”

I have struggled with my weight for so many years and each time that my life has gone into chaos, I’ve regained the weight.

In this case, it’s the opposite. I continue to lose weight. I’m now a size 14 where I used to be a size 20. It feels so good to be in such great shape. I think the biggest change is that now I walk everywhere.

But I knew there had to be more to it than that. In thinking about the reason why I’m finally shedding so much of my layers of protection and insulation, I realize that during this past 27 month period that my sweet Angel has been gone, I’ve had to do everything for myself. He’s no longer here for me to rest my head on his shoulders.

I’ve gotten so strong and resourceful. And my first priority is to deal with whatever issue is facing me. When I had the luxury of being cared for, I used to immerse myself in a bucket of ice cream or fall into a bag of chips clinging onto the hope that the food would make my problems go away. But it never worked for long.

As I continue to learn more about how to regain my independence, shake my fear of being alone, rebuild my life and get my financial house in order, I am proud of the woman I have become and continue to become.

If you’re facing a tough time, know that you will get through this. Just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward, just a little bit each day. And before you know it, you will have achieved the goal you set out to achieve.

You got this!