April 11, 2013|Cliff Newell, The Lake Oswego Review

Kathleen Rehl to lead workshop on financial planning for widows April 20 in Lake Oswego

Nothing can prepare a woman for the shock and grief that comes with the loss of a husband.

But once the grief subsides a bit, a widow must take care of her financial future. That is why “Moving Forward on Your Own,” a workshop for widows and wives, will be so valuable for women in Lake Oswego. It is scheduled for April 20 from 10 a.m. to noon at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church.

Leading the workshop will be Kathleen Rehl, an outstanding expert in this field. Not only is Rehl qualified by her academic qualifications but also by hard experience.

“When I lost my husband in 2007 it had a crushing impact of grief,” Rehl said. “I thought I was going nuts. I had a Ph.D. and was a certified financial planner, but I had this vision about being a bag lady.”

Fortunately, this worry passed away after five minutes, and Rehl is now helping widows across the country achieve financial stability and peace of mind. To Lake Oswego Fee-Only financial planner Joe Alfonso, who organized the workshop, Rehl was the best possible choice to lead it.

“Kathleen is a colleague from Florida,” said Alfonso, whose independent firm is Aegis Financial Advisory. “I decided that having her visit LO would be a great gift to the community, and she graciously agreed to travel here to do her workshop.”

As an award-winning speaker and author, Rehl offers the help widows need more than anything.

“There’s a lot out there for widows, like very emotional memoirs,” she said. “A lot of them are very good. But there’s not a whole lot about money. There are 12 million widows in the USA today and there are 800,000 new widows every year. I was 56 years old at the time of my husband’s death, and 70 percent of wives can expect to be widows.

“The top stressor for a woman is the death of a spouse. Her brain literally goes out to lunch and she goes into survival mode.”

Rehl’s book, also called “Moving Forward on Your Own,” does not try to overwhelm readers.

“It’s just tips, ideas and beautiful paintings,” she said. “It gives exercises that can heal the soul.”

The chance to have Rehl’s workshop in Lake Oswego met wide acceptance.

Alfonso said, “I thought this event would be helpful to the community as a result of meeting with several widows in my practice and seeing that they have very specific needs for financial help and support to assist them in successfully making this difficult life transition.

“In seeking a host for this event I learned there are at least two widow support groups in this area, one at Lake Grove Presbyterian and another at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.”

Rehl is finding huge numbers of people seeking her help. One of her biggest clients is the U.S. Army. There is such demand for her program that she has given up her career as a financial planner.

“As a financial planner I could help about 60 people,” Rehl said. “As a speaker, teacher and writer I can touch many more people. I speak to 20, 30, 100 people at a time. I can reach thousands more people this way.”

Rehl has found that 70 percent of all widows fire their financial advisers (generically labeled “Good old Fred” by Rehl) after their husbands die. Before, finances were sometimes like a game worked out by the husband and the adviser on the golf course.

“They say ‘Fred doesn’t get it. Can I be safe?,’” Rehl said. “It’s a whole different ballgame. A widow started crying in my office because she did not know what to do.”

Rehl wants the tears to stop and the healing to start.

There is no charge to attend the widows workshop, but advance registration is required. This can by done by contacting Joe Alfonso or at Register. Lake Grove Presbyterian Church is located at 4040 Sunset Drive. The workshop will be held in the Hub Room on the second floor.