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It’s OK to Grieve
Barbara K. Armstrong, Paralegal

Working for an estate planning firm can be very rewarding as you interact with your clients and their families, whether it is finalizing their estate planning documents or helping a family begin the process of administering a loved one’s estate. For the latter, every family is different. I have spoken to some families who want to get the administration process started right away, and I tell them to slow down. There is nothing that needs to be done right away. Take care of the final arrangements and give yourself some time to grieve.

Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be. You may associate grieving with the death of a loved one – which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief – but any loss can cause grief.

In a conversation with one of our clients, she mentioned how much she missed her husband. He had always been her rock and they were such a team. Her husband is still alive. He has been suffering with Alzheimer’s and she had to move him to a memory care unit. Even though her husband is still alive, she has lost the man she married as though he has died.

Most recently, an old friend of mine lost her son. Unfortunately, it was due to an overdose. She told me that at first everyone was supportive, but in the weeks that followed, she was told to “suck it up” or that “he did it to himself” and that she should move on. I cannot imagine telling a grieving mother anything other than “There is no time-frame for grieving. It is a process.” Listen and give someone who is grieving your ear as you would hope someone would for you when you experience a loss.

Eventually, you will move on. Moving on means that you’ve accepted your loss, but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you. In fact, as we move through life, these memories can become more and more integral to defining us as the people we are.

Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so don’t feel ashamed about how you feel or believe that it’s somehow only appropriate to grieve for certain things. If the person, animal, relationship, or situation was significant to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing.