CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 has created an unexpected club that no one wants to be a member of -- COVID widows.
The virus is killing more men than women, leaving their loved ones behind and in many cases facing not only emotional struggles but financial burdens as well.
Pam and Rick Morell were ten days away from celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and had planned a trip to Maui that they never got to take.
Rick passed away from COVID-19 six months ago.
"There's a lot of sadness and the heartbreak I think lasts forever," Pam said. "It's as if someone reached in our home, grabbed him, and stole him from me. Some days I do okay, some days I don’t."
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The 70-year-old says there is sadness of course, but also so much fear and uncertainty.
"First of all it’s the loneliness, second financially I'm not a wealthy person. My household income dropped to one-fourth of what it was," she said.
Her husband was the breadwinner and the one who handled the finances.
It’s a situation thousands of women across the U.S. are now facing because of how many more men than women are dying of the virus, especially male senior citizens.
Financial planner Jason Sirmon says that’s why it’s important to be proactive, to have a budget, and work with someone you trust to manage your money.
"Have a partner, someone you trust and knows you and your family and then have a plan and be able to implement when life events take place."
Pam retired years ago. Now, at age 70, she's looking for work. It's a position she never expected to be in.
"I don’t know if I could work a full-time job, maybe I could if anyone would hire me."
She is living with relatives for now while working at a daycare and working with her sons to get her finances figured out.
"I want people to understand what COVID has done to seniors. I don’t want people to feel sorry for Pam Morell, I want them to be concerned for people like me that are even less fortunate," she said.
Sirmon also points out that the bulk of income for people in retirement age comes from Social Security, specifically about 40%. He says it’s a good idea to go to the Social Security Administration's website and research your options.
WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.