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The financial impact of depression and grief

Author: Ella Moss
Published: May 17 2014

There are many aspects of life which affect our finances: work, family, lifestyle – to list a few. However, two situations that occur in life which we don’t expect to affect our finances are grief and mental illnesses, such as depression. When grieving or in the depths of depression, we rarely think about what financial repercussions it could be having on our life.

Many spouses share their finances. This can either mean a joint bank account, so both incomes get paid into the same account, or shared bills. When one of these people is taken out of the equation, the spouse left is then forced to pay for the both of them. The average electricity bill for a medium house is £83 a month, split between two people this is less than a day’s wages at minimum wage, whereas for one person this is a considerable amount. This is purely the cost of losing someone and may go towards explaining why so many feel pressured to returning to work so soon after losing their loved one, which can lead to depression. The cost of grief itself can be even more disturbing.

Grieving over the loss of a loved one is completely normal and most companies will allow you compassionate grounds or bereavement leave. However, whether this is paid or not and how long you can take this leave for is up to your employer. If this leave is not paid, the lack of income is a huge stressor on the life of someone who is already in emotional turmoil. If the grief continues or spirals into depression, therapy may be needed. Fortunately, counselling is available on the NHS and there are charities around which offer bereavement counselling to help you start to move on from your loss naturally. The only issues with counselling on the NHS, is that there is a long waiting list, and for those who need to deal with their grief quickly because they can’t deal with the financial burden of missing work, they may not feel they have the time to wait, forcing them to seek out private therapy, which can cost between £40 - £100 per session.

If you have children and they’ve lost their mother or father, they will be grieving also. School will allow them time off so that they can stay at home and cope with their loss. However, this means the remaining spouse is left looking after children when some can’t look after themselves and need their own time to process the situation. If family members aren’t available to look after the children, getting a babysitter for your children can be between £6 - £10 per hour, and this is considering you even want to leave your children with a stranger while they’re grieving, showing how complicated the cost of grief can become.

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