At work, I deal with financial planning and investing. Usually, this is a hope-filled occupation. Investors optimistically put their money into various funds, expecting that they will have earned more money when it is time to take it out of the fund.

But there is another side to my job. When an investor dies, the family calls me because our office is responsible for appropriately distributing the money to the existing beneficiaries. Since the beginning of April, there have been an unusual number of deaths, and as a result, many families have called the office or walked in to let us know.

I've never had to face death before. My older sister died, but that happened before I was born. My grandma died when I was sixteen, but we lived in New Jersey and she lived in Illinois. I had never spent a lot of time with her, and even though her passing hurt, it hurt more in terms of lost opportunities than in terms of a relationship now missing. I feel ill-equipped to comfort or empathize with the raw grief I am facing on a daily basis.

A 92 year old mother of six grown children passed away. Her oldest son walked into the office on a sunshiny day in April and blandly announced, "Mother's gone." I gazed at his face while my mind absorbed his words. His voice graveled out as he explained, "She passed on just after midnight yesterday." He paused, cleared his throat, forced air into his lungs and raised his head determinedly. "Thought I'd better let you know."

A man in his fifties shook when he told me that the sick mother he had cared for over the past ten years was finally at peace. That was over three weeks ago, and he has come into our office many times since then just because he has no one else to talk with. Without the frail patient in his life needing constant attention, he is lost. He has known nothing else for the past decade.

Craig attended the funeral of a 24 year old man last week, and yesterday a father called to tell me that his youngest daughter died on Saturday. Her two, young children are now under their grandparents' guardianship. I listened to the heartbreak in his voice when he told me. The tiredness. The unfathomable grief. The disbelief. I jotted down the relevant details so that we could perform our financial duties for him appropriately, and I told him, "Ron, I'm sorry."

I'm sorry.

How does that help? It does not even begin to convey my real feelings, my real, deep sorrow for the families left behind. And if it doesn't cover my small measure of grief for the family of a person that I had never met, how can it assuage a minute portion of the grief of the person I say it to?

I am saved. I am saved from Hell, from the cost of my own sin. I know this because I have trusted God to punish His Son Jesus for my sins instead of punishing me. I know that when I die, I WILL be in Heaven. I WILL be better off. I know that my family will miss me, but I know that if they have accepted God's power to forgive their sins, I will get to see them again in Heaven when they are finished living on earth.

But how can I apply this to my clients? I'm not worried about my own future; I know that it is secure. I am grieving for the families left behind, and for the loved one whose future is now present. I don't know where they are, and I don't know what to say to the client on the other end of the phone or on the other side of the desk. Yesterday, I hung up the phone, put my face in my hands and cried.

I'm sorry.

A hug.

It doesn't go away. It might fade for me, but there is a hole in a family now that will never again be filled.
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1 Response
  1. Rachel Says:

    Actually, sometimes "I'm sorry" does help. You were there and you cared, and you probably made more difference than you know:)


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