Monday, January 26, 2009

Grieving 101

Two unrelated family deaths and nearly two months later, my first meaningful post of the year on this blog is long overdue. As a professional that works daily with families who are either suffering grief over the loss of a loved one or anxiety over worrying about what the future may hold, my recent personal refresher course in death and grieving has silenced my drive to blog until today.

What has struck me most about the deaths that have touched our family is the shifting of relationships - some that were so close seem to drift apart while others, long absent from another, find a tighter bond forming.

Others that felt they would be called upon to fulfill important new roles in the lives of the grieving are surprised and hurt when they realize they are unneeded - or worse - unwanted, while some unexpectedly find themselves thrust into roles they gladly accept but never anticipated. The changes can occur so quickly it makes your head spin - leaving you with a feeling of loss of not only the loved one that passed away, but the loss of your relationships the way that you knew them.

It is in this environment of emotional turmoil, not only over the death, but over the changing relationships and roles that the legal process of settling an estate must suddenly raise its ugly head. Paperwork must be dealt with, death certificates must be obtained. In some circumstances, attorneys must be retained and court procedures instituted.

Others not as closely involved in the process begin to wonder about their own estate planning - have I done enough - do I have enough life insurance - does my will really say what I want it to? Oddly enough, in the weeks following the second death in our family, I found myself re-executing my own estate plan.

After fifteen years of practicing law in this area with the primary goal of providing caring, compassionate services to my clients, the recent events that occurred in my family have served not only as a personal wake-up call, but a professional one as well.

I hope you'll follow my blog as my practice evolves over the coming months.

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