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What do you do if your spouse dies?

July 18, 2017

This past year has been a bit of a reality check for me. People around me have lost siblings and significant others. It is truly shocking. This is life, I know, but unfair nonetheless. 😦

Yesterday a friend of mine here in Finland lost her husband unexpectedly. She is not from Finland. My heart breaks for her, as she also has small children who now have to live their lives without a dad.

She has some hard times ahead, choices to make and things to do. One of life’s unwelcome challenges.

Last year Helsingin Sanomat ran an article highlighting the things that must be done (over a period of time) after a loved one dies. I am still waiting on an answer from them to see if I can access the article.

Meanwhile I searched for information in English and was surprised to see that many Finnish institutions provide a wealth of information.

The Social Services Institution (KELA) is a good place to start.

Infopankki, which is a portal of information for foreigners living in Finland also provides some advice in the event of a death in the family. is a service that is being developed by the Finnish Population Register Centre, and actually provides detailed answers to a lot questions that grieving people may not think to ask.

Of course, there are two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. The Finnish Tax Authority also provides information on things that must be done on the financial side.

When a spouse of working age dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to a survivors’ pension. Dependent children are also eligible for an orphan’s pension. The Finnish Centre for Pensions also provides information on that topic and what forms to fill out.

What is important to keep in mind is to ask, “Is there something else I need to know.” This seems to be a standard for foreigners in Finland, as the dissemination of need-to-know information is not always equal in all communities.

Coming to terms with the loss of a spouse/sibling/friend who is still of working age is a scary thing. My heart goes out to anyone and everyone facing that challenge right now.

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