Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email


Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 27 November 2015
Dear Patricia Marie, 

I recently unexpectedly inherited a large sum of money from an elderly lady for whom I used to work as a housekeeper.  I had worked for her for the last five years, during which time we had become quite close, as I seemed to be the only contact for her with the outside world, and to my knowledge she had no living family.  I would sit and read to her and we would discuss the day's news.  I would take her out sometimes to places she remembered from her youth and we would laugh about some of her stories.  However I had never even considered what would happen in the event of her death, and when she died quite suddenly, I was very distressed as I knew I would miss our time together.

My problem is that my husband has big plans for my inheritance, and I don't agree with him.  I want to do something in her memory, and also give some of it to worthy causes which I knew she supported.

My husband wants to spend, spend, spend.  I have always known that money changes people, but I am actually quite disgusted with his manner over this.  

What should I do? 

Patricia Marie says...

Losing a friend is never going to be easy, especially one who you saw so regularly, and with whom you had forged a strong bond. Keeping your own sense of calm and maintaining your friend's memory are an important part of the grieving process. You are understandably angry because of the pain your friend's death has caused, therefore, particularly sensitive to your husband's comments, which merely reinforce your sorrow. I doubt he means to deliberately upset you, but possibly is thinking that as you dedicated much of your time to this lady, you now deserve some enjoyment from her kind gesture. 

Make him aware of your feelings - that you are not ready to make extravagant plans yet, but are prepared to compromise. Hopefully he will understand that you would appreciate his patience at this upsetting time. 

Firstly it sounds like you need cheering up. So be extravagant for a day, and treat yourself to an item you would never normally purchase. Perhaps an exquisite piece of jewellery which can become a keepsake, and remind you of your friend each time you wear it.  She had probably taken her own worthy causes into consideration, and had intended you to personally benefit from her bequest, so enjoy it. Maybe treat your close friends and family to a meal or a theatre trip, and spend some quality time with those you love, which will create a feel good factor.

Then put off making any further decisions regarding this inheritance until you are in a more focused state of mind, when hopefully you and your husband can then look forward to having a rational conversation about this matter. Finally - do consider, yes, it is your inheritance, but if you decide to make any decisions without your husband, this may cause serious problems within your marriage, which I feel would be the last thing your friend would have wanted when she wrote her will. 

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