Divorce and Self-Care

Purse Strings Approved Professional

Blog Series

Divorce and Self-Care 

Why it’s Necessary—Not Only for the Clients 

Self love hug as esteem and confidence for being woman tiny pers

I’ve been blessed to create a circle of industry professionals who have taught me so much since I  decided to specialize in divorce mortgage planning. One member of my tribe, who has also become a  very dear friend, is a collaboratively trained family lawyer and mediator. She’s one of the best and has  been instrumental in opening my eyes to the pitfalls that people can get caught up in during the divorce  process. I know, I’m practically gushing, but she’s just incredible at what she does. The way she  incorporates a storytelling session for her divorcing couples as part of her standard practice is extremely  insightful. She explains options to them that they may not have ever considered before meeting her.  

Recently, she invited me to sit in on two of her very educational consultations with two separate  couples. She talked through the different types of divorce and options available for every type of family  going through it. She offered thought-provoking ideas and possibilities they never knew existed,  including alternatives to divorce and legal options that may work for them. This empowerment is crucial  for couples who believe that the law dictates the process… when actually, they can be in the driver’s  seat to navigate their own situation.  

I found the entire experience fascinating. I have learned many things that I now incorporate into my  own lane of business. Offering clients empathy and the space for contemplation and options is  necessary, even when the couple may not realize it’s something they need. More often than not,  couples contemplate their situation for months, years, maybe even decades before actually initiating  any course of action. Unfortunately, it isn’t until then that they realize there isn’t only one cut and dry  way to go about it—if they have the right team in place.  

As I sat through her presentations, silently observing as the couples talked about their journey, I was so  intrigued by the way they would smile as they thought back on the early days, when they first met, and  how it all started. As the discussion unraveled, they would both jump in and complete each other’s  sentences or correct each other on the small details of the stories. It happened in both presentations for  both couples, and I was instantly transported back to years ago when I was contemplating my own  divorce. We tried for years to live unconventionally and get through each day while still holding on to  hope that something might change or break open for the benefit of our children. Had I known there  were so many options, it could have been a much healthier environment and time frame for everyone  involved. If only we had known to approach the process in a way similar to the one I was witnessing with  my present-day colleague leading the way.  

As I continued to listen, the couples would progress through their story and get to the point where  things pivoted and moved into a darker and more hopeless situation. One spouse remains quiet while  the other one—who has already processed the demise of the relationship—continues down the path of  how things have changed and how it just isn’t working for them anymore. They finish their part of the  story, while the other spouse seems like they might not have known everything their significant other  has been feeling. They may be hearing some of these things for the first time while sitting in that room  with two other people present. The room gets thick with anxiety and sadness. I could see the guilt and shame on their faces for existing in a space they never thought they’d be. The attorney allows them to  continue the story, but doesn’t interfere to counsel them, as she knows her place. She isn’t a therapist,  but she does need them to feel the gravity of the decision they will ultimately make. They need to be  prepared for everything they will need to unpack and unravel before they start the transition of divorce. 

Sitting in that room and seeing it unfold like this, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Not only is the couple  feeling the toxic air and energy around them . . . so are the professionals who are helping them. I  realized how much the divorce attorneys, counselors and coaches must absorb on a daily basis. Before  any final decisions are reached, I imagine how much the negative emotions and conflict must somehow  affect them as well. I also feel it as their mortgage professional because of the emotions attached to the  martial home, but I think they we are all affected on a different level.  

The very same week, while sitting with another attorney discussing this very subject, he mentioned that  he integrates recommendations to his clients to start meditating, practicing yoga, and using therapeutic  breathing techniques. I was impressed with the way he guides his clients to a healthier place to shift  their energy. 

If you are reading this, you may be someone who has gone through divorce, someone contemplating  divorce, or you work in the divorce space like me. Regardless of who you are, please take care of  yourself. Especially if you’re surrounded by it on a daily basis. Even if you’re just someone’s confidant… a  friend or family member of someone going through it, it will affect you. Negativity, stress and emotion  can permeate your space. It’s easy to allow it to shape and determine how you view or move through  your own world.  

We must treat divorce the same way we would work through any other loss or tragedy. It became so  clear to me through these two particular instances, and I’m so grateful to these colleagues for teaching  me by example.  

When I reflect on my own divorce, I was grateful to learn about the world of self-healing, self-reflection,  and energy work. It helped me through those difficult times. I eventually reached a place where I  understood that my marriage was a season of my life that gave me some wonderful memories, two  beautiful children and 20 years of growth. I had a better understanding that the relationship was ending  as we knew it, but this person—the father of my children—would always be in my life and our family  would just look very different moving forward.  

This family law attorney I mentioned earlier told me, “Even if my client doesn’t embrace this for  themselves, it is my priority to practice this. I am working and serving a community of people who are in  pain, anxious, sad, full of grief, angry, and carrying a high level of negative emotions. I cannot allow that  to penetrate my space and energy.” The old adage is true—we need to put the oxygen mask on  ourselves first before we can truly help others. This rang so true to me at that moment. We cannot save  the world from experiencing pain, but we can open up possibilities to guide people to work within  themselves and self-reflect. That is an enormous part of self-care. The goal is to get out of your own way  and shift the voice inside your head to a more compassionate voice, a voice that is your own biggest  cheerleader. These are steps toward achieving emotional intelligence. This is a daily practice. As you get  better at navigating it, you will find your own inner peace. Whether you are a person going through a  divorce, or a professional helping someone on that journey, be kind to yourself.  

I’ve always been an advocate for self-care, I just never knew I could integrate it into my business like  this. Thanks to those professionals who have exuded this in your daily work life, reminding me that we  can all make a difference in more ways than one.  

Tami Wollensak is a Senior Mortgage Loan Originator and a Certified Divorce Lending Professional NMLS 1963450 at Oak Leaf  Community Mortgage, A Division of Mutual Federal Bank. An Equal Housing Lender insured by FDIC.

Tami Wollensak, CDLP

Tami Wollensak, CDLP

Sr. Mortgage Loan Officer

Women supporting woman is an incredible gift. I find that the relationships, bonds and friendships that I have built while helping others make sense of things during a life transition and what can be a very dark and challenging time makes my work extremely fulfilling. If I can help someone to be a little bit less stressed and shine some light on a subject that might feel daunting and overwhelming then I have done what I have set out to do. Surrounding myself with a tribe of like minded people women is what gives me the drive in my day to continue to pursue my passions.

What financial steps should a widow take in the first year

Purse Strings Approved Professional

Blog Series

What financial steps should a widow take in the first year?

HSA Heath Savings Account

You may be experiencing a range of emotions when your spouse dies. Unfortunately, these feelings don’t go away instantly, and when you start working with your finances, you may feel emotionally overwhelmed. What you are feeling is normal.

However, now is the time you must start pulling the pieces together so you can protect yourself and be your own advocate. It will also be helpful to have a trusted friend or relative help you through this period.

Get a notebook/journal and start writing everything down, because you will not remember having some conversations and certainly not the details. You will feel like you’re operating in a “fog” the first couple months.

Begin to organize information:
  1. Start a filing system for quick and easy retrieval of information.
  2. Create a calendar with important due dates.
  3. Keep a log in your notebook of actions taken, including the date and contact person.


Contact your professional team: attorney, tax preparer, financial advisor:
  1. Gather your estate documents like will, and trust.
  2. Talk to your tax preparer about pertinent tax issues for the current year.
  3. If you’re the executor of your husband’s will, manage the estate settlement process with the guidance of your advisors.
  4. Discuss your finances with your financial advisor.


Review your cash flow for the first year:
  1. Prepare a statement listing where money will come from and where it needs to go in the first six months to a year. Include a list of regular bills.
  2. Liquidate certain assets that don’t have a penalty such as certificate of deposits or annuities with a death benefit.


Collect benefits:
  1. Locate your spouse’s birth certificate, Social Security number, marriage license, military discharge papers, financial account statements and company benefits brochure you may need to collect certain benefits. Keep these papers in your organizational folders.
  2. File for Social Security benefits at www.ssa.gov.
  3. Contact your life insurance agent to start collecting benefits. Review payout options.
  4. Collect veteran’s benefits by contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs if your spouse was in the military.
  5. Rollover your spouse’s IRA into your own.
  6. Contact the HR Department of your spouse’s employer to collect unpaid salary, vacation pay, sick pay, bonuses, pension benefits, and other benefits due.
  7. Take a pension from your husband’s qualified retirement plan or roll it over to your IRA after reviewing the options and your financial circumstances.
  8. Contact the financial aid office if you have a child in college. They may be eligible for increased financial aid.


Adjust health and other insurance coverage:
  1. Make sure you have your own medical insurance coverage.
  2. Notify all insurance agents for auto, homeowners, liability, long-term care, and any other policies.


Review assets and liabilities:
  1. Create a financial net worth statement, a list of all you own and what you owe.


Complete the estate settlement:
  1. Change the title and beneficiaries on investments, life insurance, vehicles, safe deposit box, retirement accounts. When you’re ready to change the names on your credit card, send it in writing with a copy of the death certificate.
  2. Joint checking account should be left open for a year so you can deposit checks payable to your spouse.
  3. File an estate tax return if federal or state estate tax is owed. This is due nine months after death.


Take care of yourself:
  1. Consider joining a support group for widows or talk with a counselor.
  2. Remember self-care including exercise, yoga, meditation, massages, bubble baths, facials, and chocolate!
  3. Read a good book about widowhood. There are several good ones, including “For Widows Only!” by Annie Estlund.
  4. Keep in touch with your female friends.


Move forward with new goals and your new life:
  1. Create an updated financial plan focusing on short-term goals first. Keep it simple and manageable.
  2. Update your will and estate plan.
  3. Expand your social circles. Meet new people who know you as yourself and not as half a couple.
  4. Be careful about entering a new relationship too quickly. Be wary of guys looking for a “purse.” Keep your finances to yourself.
  5. It may not seem like it, but there is life after grief.


It’s ok to postpone major decisions during the first year when possible. You don’t need to rush, especially with your big decisions. You will be bombarded by well-meaning friends and family with their suggestions for what “the right decision” is. It can be very helpful to have a trusted friend help you think through some decisions you’ll make. For example, do you pay off your mortgage, or move in with your daughter?

You are at a very vulnerable time following your spouse’s death. Go slowly. Be gentle. Give yourself time to heal.

Linda Lingo

Linda Lingo

Financial Coach

I educate women to achieve financial freedom. Financial health and emotional wealth empower women for a successful, stress-free approach to money. Through inspiration and education, I guide women to understand their money mindset, define their values, establish money goals in alignment with their values so they can spend less, save more, implement their intentional money spending plan (budget), understand investments, build wealth, leave a legacy, and live the life they desire.