It boggles my mind that there is a negative judgment by some individuals surrounding widows who receive life insurance pay-outs. Being widowed young and making it a point to meet other widows, I've heard many different stories to this effect. One friend of mine had rumors circulated about her following her young husband's sudden death that she had collected one million dollars. This wasn't remotely true. But you know what? Why does it matter? What if she had? Shouldn't we be thankful that a young (or any age for that matter) widow has some financial provision put in place by her late husband? After all, he no longer provides a monthly income-- so if she receives a lump sum upon his death that can help with years to come, that is a blessing.
Any money a widow receives can never, ever, compare to what it would be like to have her husband back. Given the choice, she'd be willing to live in some tiny cramped place, shopping for the rest of her life at the discount grocery if it meant he could come back. The cash, in her mind, is probably thought of as blood money, a pay-out for his life. She'll accept it and she'll use it but if she had any other choice she'd rather have the man.
She'd rather have a warm man to cuddle at night, his heart beating next to hers... She misses the days when she was complaining about his whiskers in the bathroom sink... She'd gladly empty any excess from her bank account if she could just have him there when the children cry for him, to tuck them in at bedtime and read them stories. She'd give anything to have her permanent wedding date back so when the couples get up to dance it wouldn't make her feel so empty inside... She'd rather be watching, amused and horrified at the same time, as he pulls another crazy stunt like paying for a television with one dollar bills... If she could just call his phone and hear "Love you, baby girl," everything would seem right in the world.
Money is no comfort; no consolation for the loss of your best friend. Money doesn't make up for the loss of your co-parent. Money doesn't hold you when you feel alone. Money doesn't make you laugh the way he did... It can, perhaps, buy distractions. It can provide some security in the form of home, education, cars, medical bills, etc...
If you don't have a life insurance policy, I urge you to go out and get them on you and your family. We certainly don't expect or want anything bad to happen, but isn't it better to be prepared? Funerals, death certificates, burial, headstones, and grave plots are expensive. (Not to mention-- many people who've lost a spouse are left with crushing medical bills.) With my husband's services and burial I tried to keep costs to a minimum and it was still pricey. We had a budget wedding (about $2k), but his budget funeral still cost me 6x as much.
(PC: Joanna Samples, 4/2014)
The bottom line is this: a widow's finances really aren't your business unless you're her CPA/financial advisor, current spouse, or she's coming to you for advice. But if you must worry about it: know that the woman (or man) that got some insurance money would 100% rather have their spouse instead. The loss of a spouse is something we would not wish on anyone.