The Business of Loss

A bereaved spouse recently described feeling overwhelmed by the amount of business she needed to manage after her husband’s death. “I am overwhelmed by paperwork. I am trying to deal with probate, close accounts, pay all of the medical bills, get the utilities transferred to my name and a dozen other tasks. Each job is another sting of pain reminding me of his absence. But I also dread finishing the work because it brings more finality to his death.”

For many who grieve, taking care of business dealings after a death can be daunting. The state of mind required to concentrate and be productive can be contrary to the state of the heart when there is sorrow. It is tempting to avoid this work because of the many reminders of the loved one, yet deadlines do not wait for those who mourn.

Engaging in the business transactions that come after a loss is part of this chapter of your grief story. It may be exhausting, frustrating and tedious. It may be painful to see on paper the hard reminders of the reality of your loved one’s death. Take this endeavor on in small steps while being mindful of the deadlines. When possible, ask for help. This appeal for support is a concrete way those who care for you can be of assistance. Know that finishing the business of loss may create both relief and fresh sorrow.

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Dr. Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, Texas, specializing in grief counseling. For 35 years, he has counseled individuals, couples and families in his private practice. Dr. O'Malley has recently published a book, "Getting Grief Right" about grief recovery.

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