Episode 65 – Amy Florian on Grief, Loss & Transitions

We all struggle with grief, loss and moments of transition in our lives. Grief can come from many areas, whether that be from the death of a loved one or a change in life that leads to something being left behind. Chris talks to a grief specialist Amy Florian about how we can deal with grief and be supportive to someone else dealing with loss. With another Bage’s Biases, #tightasstommo money saving tips and an update from the fast approaching IFW Conference, the guys have a longer than usual, but uplifting and informative episode for you . . .

Welcomes and Introductions

The first IFW Conference – 21st to 25th September 2020, click here for more details and to purchase tickets

What is this podcast all about –

  • A chat with Amy Florian, who is an expert in grief. It may sound a slightly morbid topic, but it is actually a fascinating interview.
  • Link to Corgenius

Bage’s Biases

Every episode, Behavioral Finance expert Neil Bage is going to be giving us his money behavioral tip.
– Link to Episode 36 – Understanding our attitude to risk
– Link to Episode 21 – Financial capability
– Link to BeIQ | Beam App

This episode – Framing Bias

Tight Ass Tommo

Featuring courgettes,how to spend money, woodpeckers and some intensive financial admin!

Link to JJJ Vinyl

Amy Florian Interview

Why is Chicago called the Windy City?

Who is Amy?

What is Thanatology?

Grief is a much broader subject than just death.

How did Amy come to advise people on how to deal with grief?

Grief takes time – often a lot more time than people realise.

People can be hurtful without meaning to be when it comes to comforting the bereaved.

How do we approach a conversation with someone experiencing loss?

Do not talk about you, you cannot fix it, it’s not your job to cheer them up

Your job is to companion them wherever they are.

It’s about making it about them

Link to video – It’s not about the nail

Why is it bad to burst into tears?

Every grieving person wants to know that their loved one’s life made a difference

Grief in a wider context, it is not just when somebody has died. It occurs whenever there is a break in an attachment. Every life transition triggers grief, its a period of adjustment

How do you help somebody who doesn’t want to be helped?

The greatest memorial we can ever build to somebody we love who dies, is to live our lives now as fully as possible enriched by their memory

Rabbi Earl Grollman

How do you talk to someone when you can see what the outcome might be, but do not feel close enough to reach out?

Samaritans – Call 116 123

A Friend Indeed – Amy Florian

How to action Clarity and Security for those we leave behind?

We should all have our affairs in order as we go along, all our lives.

We know that the survivors of a loved one’s death grieve with more peace and less guilt and less second guessing, if they are not required to make medical decisions for their loved ones without knowing what their loved ones want.

Clarity for those we leave behind includes, if I died tomorrow, would they know I loved them?

Conclusions from the guys

Click here for more information about Amy Florian and Corgenius

Take a look at the Corgenius You Tube channel

Transcribe of the Podcast Script:

(scroll to the bottom to listen to the episode)

David 0:29
Hello everybody and welcome to another one in our series of Financial Wellbeing podcasts. My name is David Lloyd, actor, writer, broadcaster. Once again we are in lockdown when we are doing this so we are not altogether in a room like we normally are, we were in our separate houses, having a conversation on Zoom. And I would like to introduce to the other two people who contribute to this podcast. Firstly Chris:

Chris 0:54
Hello everybody. Chris Budd, I wrote the Financial Wellbeing book. I also help companies who want to sell their businesses to an Employee Ownership Trust – or I used to! Hopefully will do again when we are out of the lockdown period. I do a lot of writing about money and happiness too.

David 1:10
And Tommo:

Producer Tommo 1:11
Chartered Financial Planner and Director at Ovation Finance and director at the Initiative of Financial Wellbeing. Who have a conference coming up in September, so, due to Covid and lockdown, we have moved it to a virtual conference. But because of that we are actually able to increase the program and it’s going to be across a whole week. From the 21st of September to the 25th of September. Primarily geared at financial services professionals, financial planners, advisers, coaches. To enable them to get some skills to help their clients become happier not just wealthier. But the program looks absolutely brilliant, there is tonnes in there. And with it being virtual you can dip in and out, fit it around your diary, but yeah, tonnes of content. You can find out some information on this at www.initiativeforfinancialwellbeing.org.uk and there is a link to the conference in the shownotes that also includes the schedule and you are also able to buy tickets aswell. Which I feel are an absolute billy bargin for whats on offer. So yeah, go have a look, yeah really excited.

David 2:12
And it will be an opportunity for you to see the faces behind this podcast as well, because we will all be there. Right. Okay, so let’s move on now. Before we do, Chris, tell us what we’re doing in the podcast today?

Chris 2:25
Today, David, we have an interview that I did with a lady named Amy Florian. And Amy is a specialist on grief. Now that might sound a slightly morbid topic but I hope you’ll agree that actually she is fascinating. And I found talking to her truly uplifting and I just got so much from it, I really did so yeah really interesting interview and chat coming up.

David 2:49
I’m really looking forward to that Chris really looking forward to that very interesting subject as you say. But before we do, let’s have the first of our two regular features, I say regular the first one is a relatively new one this is only the second time that we’ve done it. Bages Biases. So every episode, behavioral finance expert Neil Bage age is going to give us his money behaviour tip. Neil’s an old friend of the podcast he did episodes 36 and 21. His company Be-IQ has just launched a new app called Beam on iTunes at the moment. You can get it on Android later in the year. And Beam will help you uncover your own behavioral biases the things that often stop us from making good decisions about money. So, lets have a listen to what bias Neil has for us this episode:

Neil Bage 3:36
The second bias that we’re gonna look at today is Framing Bias. So, what is Framing Bias? Framing Bias is where we make a decision based on how information is presented to us, as opposed to the facts themselves. For example, assume we were having a conversation about retirement planning. And I said, Can you retire on 70% of your current income? Now you will listen to that question you will compute the question, and you will respond based on what you’ve heard. Now I can ask that question, the other way around. And I could say to you. Do you think you could retire on a 30% reduction of your current income? And that will more likely elicit a completely different response. Why? Well, because the second question is framed in a negative way. The first question, can you retire on 70% of your current income is framed in a positive way. And as humans we have a tendency to focus our attention on negative frames, more than we do positive frames. And like Confirmation Bias, this is all about looking deeper. When it comes to processing information that we need to process in order to reach a decision. If someone tells you that a yogurt is 80% fat free, then pause and realize that it also contains 20% fat.

Chris 5:05
I think framing is used in advertising, all the time. Obviously. But it’s usually used in more subtle ways in financial services to. And I think when we’re looking at money, it’s really, really important to recognize how the message is being said to you and the last point made was brilliant. If we said, Would you like yoghurts thats got 20% fat, you know, you would process that differently so when somebody is giving you a message about money, just make sure you’re hearing the reality of the whole message. That framing is is used nefariously a lot, but it can also be used accidently a lot as well. I love that tip.

David 5:42
Yeah. That’s a very good one. Well now, talking about money. One of the things that we like to help you with on this podcast is to obviously increase your financial wellbeing. Primarily that’s what this is all about but also do that sometimes by spending as little money as possible and there’s one person, our Prince of Parsimony, who is the expert on this subject is Tight Ass Tommo, the other one of our regular features. But before we come on to that, I got one for you this week, actually. In the last podcast we did, I talked about the fact that I discovered that I quite enjoyed gardening. And one of the things I’ve been doing is sowing and planting my own vegetables from seed. So instead of going out and buying, I’m starting to grow things. They are only just starting to come up now and it’s really exciting. Watching little onions, cauliflowers, green beans starting to sprout. Obviously, in the fullness of time, that means that I’m not going to be spending money on buyging vegetables. Assuming that they don’t all get eaten up by caterpillars of course! Yeah, take up gardening, grow your own veg. Chris have you got anything?

Chris 6:48
I do, I’m actually going to be slightly naughty because I’m going to suggest how we can spend money to be happy. Tommo forgive me for this, but there is a record shop, I don’t know what city they’re in – Loughton in Essex, called JJJ Vinyl, you can look them up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – JJJ Vinyl is the name for each of those. They have this thing ging where, if you give them an amount of money, they’ll send you records, simple! But, it’s their tips, their suggestions for records.

Chris 7:18
Im just pausing this slightly, sorry, because I just think there’s a woodpecker on my bird feeder. How exciting is that? Sorry!

Producer Tommo 7:25
Yeah, great for our listeners!

David 7:29
Is it a wooden bird feeder? Is it pecking it?

Chris 7:33
No it’s not! It’s getting the peanuts. How exciting! A lot of wellbeing from my bird feeders by the way.

Producer Tommo 7:39
I love the fact – timestamp – when this goes out we may no longer be lockdown. We are in lockdown and you can imagine, exciting, the bar that needs to be hit for that is far lower than it was previously.

David 7:53
It reminds me of it reminds me of a cartoon I saw the other day, where there’s a woman sitting on the sofa with a dog looking out the window, she turns and says to the dog. You know, it’s only recently that I’ve realized why you got so excited by somebody walked past.

Chris 8:10
Sorry, my sighting of the woodpecker was a little over the top!

Chris 8:16
So, JJJ Vinyl. I’m sending them a tenner every two weeks, and they send me an album, a 12″ and a 7″ because I do like my vinyl. And so they just arrived today, and I’ve never heard of this before, I’ve heard of the band, but The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Visions of the Emerald Beyond

David 8:36
I actually have the album, because I got it when it first came out. John McLaughlin, incredible jazz guitarist, you’re going to absolutely love, I think. Knowing your musical tastes. I think you’ll really really like that. Some of it’s a bit out there but there’s some really really good stuff. I look forward to hear your views on it.

Chris 8:55
So, i’ll let you know next podcast! JJJ Vinyl, get in touch with him, if you’re into your vinyl, send them some money and based upon your own existing collection and tastes they will send you some things that they think you’ll like. It is a very exciting thing every couple of weeks.

David 9:11
I know you’re spending money Chris but actually it is for your wellbeing, and actually for a tenner if you’re getting an album, a12″ and a 7″, thats a pretty good deal.

Chris 9:20
I was very happy. I’m very happy.

David 9:22
Tommo what have you got for us?

Producer Tommo 9:26
A little admin intensive. But I think worthwhile for many listeners out there who are employed and have workplace benefits. So, certainly during lockdown. As I said, I hope, are are out of lockdown when this comes out. But a bit more time on your hands to start thinking about the various things that you’ve got going on in your financial life. But it’s worthwhile just double checking what you, what benefits you have from your employer. And this is important from several points. Firstly, it will open your eyes up that some employers are very generous with their extra benefits that they offer to the salary, etc. It just gives you far more better understanding of what your package is worth, which could be useful if you’re a little bit disgruntled. But also, it’s a reflection, sometimes on, on, you know, an employer who actually does care about their staffs overall, personal life. And what I mean by that is firstly is having a pension plan. There will be minimums that you need to contribute and minimums that your employer will contribute. But there are often opportunities to increase that what you put in, and the employer will match it. So that’s the first one, because ultimately that could be “free money” from your employer. Quite commonly now there are life insurance schemes attached to employment so know what that is and I think quite relevant having been in a pandemic that we’re all very much aware of our own mortality. So having a look at that and seeing what your employer offers, so you might not have to buy that extra life insurance that you thought you did. There is also things like income protection that is sometimes offered. Critical illness again, quite, quite important things to focus on focuses the mind when we just come out of a pandemic. But little things as well. At Ovation we offer a health cashback scheme where if somebody goes to the dentist they are able to reclaim some cash back so little things like that. And I told you that it was a little admin intensive, but add that all up, you can get some real savings going into a pension. There’s a possibility that you could save some money on on the kind of insurance that you need. And also if there’s some cash back deals offered through your employer. Great, you can make sure that you’re, you’re making the most of those.

David 11:56
Good advice Tommo and one of the things you touched on there leads us quite nicely into our interview where we are talking about, now might be a time for us to contemplate our own mortality. Chris, this interview with Amy Florian.

Chris 12:10
So Amy is an American lady. She’s the CEO of Corgenius. And she is an expert amd advises on grief. She’ll tell you the story of how she got into this in the first place. She combines the best of neuroscience and psychology, and has a lively sense of humour as well. Trains professionals on how to deal with clients when they’re going through a transition in life, it’s not just about death it’s about transition in life so fascinating lady I really enjoyed this chat with Amy Florian.

Chris 12:42
Amy thanks so much for joining us on this podcast.

Amy Florian 12:45
Your quite welcome.

Chris 12:47
Tell me, I’m always interested to know, what’s your view at the moment, where are you sitting?

Amy Florian 12:51
I am sitting in my office in a suburb of Chicago, Illinois. In the United States

Chris 12:58
Chicago, now is it Chicago that’s the Windy City, is that right?

Amy Florian 13:02
That’s right. For, it’s actually for two reasons. Number one, there’s, it’s right on Lake Michigan a huge lake. And when the wind comes in off Lake Michigan it gets funneled between the skyscrapers, and you can walk around the skyscraper and almost get blown off your feet on a windy day so yes it is very windy in downtown Chicago on windy days. And the other way the reputation came is from Chicago politics a bunch of wind bags. Most people think of the Windy City is simply the, the weather phenomenon. But when it originally began I understand that it was the political situation causing it to be called the Windy City.

Chris 13:49
That’s great fun. Thank you. Amy, I’m gonna give it a quick name check because I heard you do an interview on Martin Bamfords podcast, absolutely fascinating and I’ve been dying to get you on our podcast ever since. So, do you want to give us a brief introduction to yourself and in particular what Thanatology is.

Amy Florian 14:15
Thanatology you had it very very close to it’s correct pronunciation, it’s really just the way it looks. Thanatos is a Greek word, and it means death. So ology means study of in the narrowest definition, it would be study of death. It’s actually broader than that, my field is death, loss, grief, aging and transition. So it’s a, it’s a broader field than just death, but grief is a broader subject than just death. So many things trigger grief, besides just death. So it really is life. Life studies. It’s a subset of psychology, most people have not heard about it. It’s a growing field. That’s what I do

Chris 15:05
I appreciate a lot of your time is advising people on how to help people with grief. Will it be okay to ask you it’s an odd thing to choose to do in life.

Amy Florian 15:17
It does seem an odd thing to do in fact many times when I’m out and about, you know, you get to know people in a social setting and the first thing they say is, what’s your name, where do you live, then they say what do you do I tell them what I do. The reaction can be quite interesting, because it’s unusual. And we feel that it’s awkward and frightening, because we don’t know anything about it. So that’s really what I do is to try to help it not be frightening and not be awkward and instead become life giving when you really do know what to do. But how did I get into it in the first place. I was 25 with a seven month old son. When my husband was killed in a car accident. I was living in a small town in the rural part of the state of Iowa, in the United States. There was nobody who knew what to say to a 25 year old widow with a baby boy. There were no support groups there was, it was very difficult to find the resources that I needed to get through this. I did the best I could. I kind of attacked my grief, my son didn’t have a dad he darn well better have a mom. So I went to places we used to go and went there by myself. I did things we used to do together and did the by myself. I really forced myself to face this reality and work my way through it, more or less, on my own. About five years after John died, I went to a seminar on grief and loss, that was put on by a man who’d never been widowed. When I was talking to him afterwards. He said, Oh, I need your voice would you would you do a seminar with me on grief and loss so that, so that you can contribute from your experience. When I did, then someone else wanted me, somebody else wanted me, somebody else wanted me. Then they started asking me my credentials, and I didn’t have any except my own personal experience. So I went back to graduate school. I have a master’s degree, and I’m a fellow in Thanatology which is the highest level of certification you can get in that field. I founded a support group for widowed people. I taught graduate classes at Loyola University in Chicago for almost 10 years and undergraduate classes at three other universities. I started speaking and teaching all over the country, publishing articles writing books, it just kept going and going and going and there was such a need. It’s for me it was just so gratifying to turn around and help people have what I didn’t have when john died. It was so gratifying to equip people to truly help each other and offer comfort in ways that we’re just not taught in our Western society.

Chris 18:27
So there is, I can’t imagine that anybody on this planet, is more qualified to discuss this topic than you. As a way of getting into the subject, can I ask, if you were to meet yourself now at 25, what advice would you give yourself?

Amy Florian 18:45
That’s an interesting question. I would first of all say, this takes time. Do what you can, but be patient with yourself, because this takes time and a lot more time than people realize. I would also say, there’s people they don’t mean to be cruel. They are very well meaning they want to bring comfort, but expect that the vast majority of the people are going to say things that are hurtful, things that are objectionable or, at best, things that are neutral, and just try to take it with a grain of salt, saying they mean well. It will save you from a lot of stress and a lot of anger. If you just realize, okay. All right, take a breath, they mean Well, thank you very much for your concern I appreciate it, and then move on.

Chris 19:49
Thats a fascinating one, that people would actually be hurtful without meaning to be. Can you give an example of how that might happen?

Amy Florian 19:55
I’ve worked with a number of people who have had a child die or have had a miscarriage, or stillbirth. And people will say, Oh, don’t worry, you’re young you can have another one. Even though when John died, people so many people said to me oh you’re young you can get married again Don’t worry. So that’s just one example, people say the most outrageous things in an attempt to be helpful. You know, some of them aren’t quite so blatant, but even things like, oh she’s in a better place. Well excuse me right now I can’t imagine a better place than right here beside me. Besides, which the, you’re assuming someone else’s belief about the afterlife, which at the time of the crisis, the foundations of people’s beliefs get knocked out from under them and they need to be able to put them back together themselves, it is not helpful for people to tell them what they’re supposed to believe about their faith about religion about the afterlife about their loved ones present location. That’s just not comforting it’s not helpful.

Chris 21:09
Presumably some of those are things that we’ve lets be honest, I’m sure we’ve all said something like that, without realizing it, and it’s come from feeling awkward about having to say something. So you say some daft thing that comes into your head. So, lets be positive, how should one approach such a conversation?

Amy Florian 21:29
The overall principle is that it is not important for you to tell them something about you. It is not important for you to fix it. You can’t. It is not your job to cheer them up. That’s, that’s not why you’re there. Your job is to companion them wherever they are. And in order to do that. What you need to do is be present. And listen, and ask good questions. Asking good questions is so much more important than telling them something about you or saying something to cheer them up. Even the standard things we’re all taught to say, like, Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss. Well, what, I don’t even know how to answer that.

Chris 22:24
What do I do with that information?

Amy Florian 22:26
Thank you? What am I supposed to do with the collective sympathy of 357 people who come to the services. It tells me something about you but it really doesn’t offer anything to me.

Chris 22:39
So that would suggest then, that it’s about making it about them not about you isn’t it?

Amy Florian 22:41
Exactly. It’s about making it about them. And it’s in two ways. There’s, there’s two ways to go with this if you’re going to say something, then offer a memory or a story about their loved one. You know, I, we are going to miss Karen so much she knew how to make people happy. She would walk into a room she’d start smiling she’d reach out to everybody. I mean, pretty soon the entire mood of the, of the room would lift because Karen was in it. We are really going to miss her ability to make people smile to make them happy to make them feel loved. Wow, we’re really gonna miss that. But tell me you knew Karen so much better than me. What is something you hope people remember about Karen? Tell me something you’d loved about her. Wow, now you’re doing something comforting. Asking, is just asking really good questions like, my favorite question; What do you wish people knew about what you’re going through right now? What do you wish people knew, they’ll tell you what they wish you knew. What do you wish people knew about what you’re going through? What do you wish people knew about what it’s like now to face the first anniversary of your mom’s death? What do you wish people knew about what it’s like to see the soccer parents, now that your child isn’t playing soccer anymore? What do you wish people knew about what it’s like to have so many people here for the services and then have everybody disappear? What do you wish people knew about what it’s like to face the fact that your child took his own life? What do you wish people knew powerful questions, they’ll tell you what they wish you knew. And it doesn’t feel intrusive because it’s not like, tell me how you feel. It’s what do you wish people knew, if you could get into their imaginations. Oh my gosh, the stories come pouring out sometimes. What do you wish people knew about what it’s like, you know, to have everybody go home? It feels lonely. It feels so isolating. I thought that my married friends were going to be with me through all of this and now it’s, it’s like I’m a threat to them, because I’m single or they don’t know what to do. I’m a third wheel I’m a fifth wheel I don’t fit into my own social circle anymore. It’s just really hard. If you invite the story they can tell you that.

Chris 22:56
Are you familiar with a video called ‘It’s not about the nail’? If you just type into YouTube ‘it’s not about the nail’ and I think that will be quite revolutionary, Neil Bage, friend of the Podcast, he told me about it quite a while ago, and it’s it just perfectly summarizes about how to listen and make it about the other person, not about you.

Amy Florian 25:44

Chris 25:46
So, are you dealing with this all day every day. I find this a hard conversation, because it’s an emotional conversation. You know what you’re describing is stuff that is real and it happens. If I’m finding it hard just to have a conversation with you about this. It kind of illustrates how hard it is to have a conversation with somebody who’s currently grieving. So, how about we get to just approaching, somebody you know has had somebody die, I want to pick the phone up because I want to help them but I’m scared to, because I don’t want to burst into tears, you know, how do you approach that?

Amy Florian 26:27
Why is it bad to burst into tears? That’s another problem in our Western society everybody feels, well I just have to be strong. I have to be strong and strong means you can’t cry. Well, what that means is you stuffing down the grief, you’re stuffing down the emotions. And when you stuff it down, it doesn’t go away. It stays there and it will find a way to come back out and bite you.

Chris 26:51
So to answer that question, why, because it’s a very fair challenge of course, I guess it’s because that makes it feel like I am making it about me if there is somebody I know that has had a recent berevement, especially as a husband or child. I can’t empathize with that. And if I phone up say Hi, how’s your day going, and burst into tears, and that’s making the conversation about me and I don’t feel it’ll be helpful. So I guess that’s why.

Amy Florian 27:17
Yes, yes. I can understand that reticence at the same time it has to be balanced with the fact that every grieving person wants to know that their loved one’s life made a difference. That someone remembers, besides them. That, that there’s a void in the world besides just in their own life. And it’s actually very comforting for people to know that other people miss them too. So if you feel that by saying, Hi, how’s it going for you today, that you’re going to burst into tears then don’t start that way Start by saying, you know, I was thinking about Karen today, and I just, I just miss her so much that I, you know, the tears are right here, I just miss her so much. But she was even closer to you and a bigger part of your life. What is your day like today? I just wanted to let you know I miss her too. And I wanted to check in and see what it’s like for you today. Maybe we can cry together? Or maybe if this isn’t a good day for you, if you don’t want to, this is an emotional day for me if that’s too much for you today then I’ll hang up, I’ll ring back tomorrow. Just really missing her today.

Chris 28:38
Yeah, I can see how that would work.

Amy Florian 28:41
What we need to do is be authentic with each other. If we’re having a hard day on either side of the equation. Why are we so reluctant to admit that? If someone’s having a hard day and I’m not having a hard day that’s okay. It still is helpful. In fact, sometimes for grieving people, it’s helpful to be able to help someone else. So to be in it together to say well I’m having a better day today but wow it does sound like you’re having a hard day today. Let’s, let’s maybe get together and a couple of days we can have coffee and see where we are then. Maybe I’ll be down and you’ll be up, maybe we’ll both be having an up morning, maybe we’ll both be having a down day, this, you know grief is all over the place. It’s up and down and back and forth, all the time for everybody.

Chris 29:32
Let’s just just talk about grief in a wider context, because grief isn’t just when sombody has died is it?

Amy Florian 29:38
No, it’s not. Grief actually occurs whenever there’s a break in an attachment. Whenever you have to leave behind, someone certainly or something, or a way of life, a job title, a dream, a function or an ability to do something, your belief in a certain institution. Whenever you have to leave behind something that you like about your life, your familiar with it, you’re attached to it and you have to go forward and learn how to live without it, that triggers grief. So yes death triggers grief. So does divorce. So does having a child born with disabilities or acquiring a disability yourself. So does being downsized. So does retirment. Yes even, even positive transitions trigger grief because we have to leave something behind. Everybody wants to throw a retirement party. Look at what they have to leave, they’re leaving behind their title and status, their prestige, their daily routine, their reason for getting out of bed in the morning, the colleagues they associated with on a daily basis. They’re leaving behind an entire way of life that has been defining for them, for years. And they have to move to something different that’s still new and unknown and uncertain and what is this going to be like? And it’s it’s a very difficult time as well as a relief and a happy time, every transaction positive and negative. Somebody has a baby, don’t you just wish you could sleep through the night just once? Don’t you wish you could go to the grocery store without carrying a minor U-Haul behind you? You just, there’s things in every transition. No matter what it is, no matter if it’s a negative transition or a positive transition, there’s things that you’re grateful for or believed about, and at the exact same time, there’s things you miss and things you long for. So, every life transition triggers grief.

Chris 31:48
You talked the beginning, it’s all bout time. You said things like, you can’t fix it, you can’t cheer them up, it’s about being present and listening. Is the word that one might use to encapusulate this, it’s a period of adjustment. And is this really about just being a support for somebody, whilst they adjust.

Amy Florian 32:07
Yeah, that’s an interesting way of putting it. It is definitely an adjustment. And in different cases it’s more or less of an adjustment, they have, certainly if a spouse dies. Every breath you take all through today is different, everything is different. If you’re an adult, and your parent dies, your daily life is not really affected. You could essentially try to block it out and go about your daily life and your daily life is not affected, but then you want to pick up the phone and call her dad. And there’s no answer on the other side or you know there’s not going to be. And it’s different types of adjustments in each type of loss, but definitely yes, supporting and being there while they let go of what has to be let go of, while at the same time that they’re building something new that didn’t exist before. And as long as that takes and as much, as much time and effort is involved to be able to support and be there for them. During that process is really crucial.

Chris 33:23
How do you help somebody who doesn’t want to be helped?

Amy Florian 33:27
Yeah. You can’t. You can’t control another person. You can offer, you can provide resources, you can do everything possible, but you can’t make them do it. There is an element of healing that is a choice. And some people consistently make the choice not to heal. I’ve worked sometimes with people, with a, I’m thinking of a particular widow right now, who sort of built her identity around being a poor little widow. That’s how she got attention. That’s how she got empathy, that’s how she was able to go on with her life, is to get everybody to pay attention to her, to give her things, because she is a poor widow, and she couldn’t let go of that. Other times, it’s more like people are afraid to let go of the pain. Because the pain is their closest connection to the person who died, and they’re afraid if they let go of the pain, then they’re really letting go of that person or they’re being disloyal to that person by going on, and finding joy, and being happy and living again, that somehow that’s disloyal to the person who died. It’s, I love, Rabbi Earl Grollman said that “the greatest memorial we can ever build to somebody we love who dies, is to live our lives now as fully as possible enriched by their memory”. I love that. It means you take the best of who they were, of who you became because they loved you. To have their impact in your life, their gifts. You take the best of them and then you bring it with you into the future, to allow you to live in their memory, fully and joyfully and putting all the pieces back together again. I love that.

Chris 35:27
A lot of our listeners are advisors, and we don’t always have the mandate to speak to somebody who’s grieving, and yet we also have a mandate to be helping them, whether its financial advisors or any other type. How do you help somebody, who doesn’t want to be helped? When you know what the end might be.

Amy Florian 35:56
In a professional capacity as a financial advisor, you talk to people about their finances, but in order to do that, well, you have to talk to them about their lives, what their goals are, what they want to do with their money, you have to get into their personal lives in order to manage their money well.

Chris 36:18
Of course, but if they don’t want to have that conversation with you.

Amy Florian 36:24
If they don’t want to have that conversation with you as a professional, as a financial professional?

Chris 36:31
I’m just using that as an example. It could be that it’s a particularly close friend, it could be somebody you know in the tennis club. There’s also situations where you’re not in the inner circle of somebody. And you know, as I say, in this particular example, the end result was tragic. When you know that that could be the end result, how do you, how would you help somebody to grieve, in a positive way than what the outcome might be? Or can’t you?

Amy Florian 37:00
If you are in a position to or, or are close enough to reach out to that person, and just say this is really tough isn’t it? Where are you finding your support? What are the hardest things for you, what are what is easier than you thought, what has surprised you about this? Just to open up the channel that they can talk about things with you. If they totally shut it down. Then they totally shut it down, you can’t reach through a closed door. You can open as many doors as possible. If they close the doors, unfortunately we, we are not in control of other people and sometimes we have to let go of thinking that we are, because we aren’t. What we can do is everything possible, we can reach out, we can ask those questions. We can even, there are there are a number of hotlines that people can call if they’re feeling suicidal. If we have a little laminated wallet size card with hotlines on it and just say, you know sometimes people in a situation like yours, feel that they really need to talk to somebody, they don’t know who to talk to, they don’t want to go to family and friends. But they’d like to be able to talk to somebody objective who doesn’t have the baggage of family. And who might be able to help them a little bit. If you ever find yourself in that situation and you just stick this in your wallet or throw it on your coffee table. Maybe you’ll need it someday, maybe somebody in your family will, maybe a friend could find it useful. I just give these to everybody that I know who’s going through anything tough in their life, because it just provides a resource that people can have. If you don’t want it, throw it in the garbage, but here, somebody else who you know might want it.

Chris 39:05
Yeah, you take the heat out of the conversation in a way.

Amy Florian 39:06
Yeah. In those situations you want to be able to ask questions and open the door. And you want to be able to offer resources without making it seem too directed at them only, or too intrusive. Just say I give this to everybody. This is what I find with a lot of people I work with, you know, I’ve known others who’ve been in situations similar to yours, it’s not exact, I don’t know what you’re going through. But sometimes what I find is this.

Chris 39:06
That’s actually a really nice way of using your professional capacity, isn’t it?

Amy Florian 39:06
Yeah it is.

Chris 39:46
To your advantage, where you’re able to say actually I’ve seen this happened before. Yeah. Okay. That’s. Thank you.

Amy Florian 39:57
I recommend the book that I wrote about grief. It’s titled, A Friend In Deed, help those who love when they grieve. Because of that, because instead of saying to somebody, you know, here’s a good book about your grief I think you could use this. To say to somebody, you’re not the only one who’s grieving here you know your your parents are grieving, your kids are grieving, your family’s grieving, your friends are grieving, your, your place of worship is grieving. So many people are grieving. Here’s a book that has some good information about grief that might help you be able to support each other a little bit better, maybe help you get through this with a little less pain, a little more understanding, a little more compassion. So, here, take the book. Just take it home. Give it to anybody you think might be able to use it or just keep it someplace at your house, somebody might want to pick it up and just read a chapter, whatever. Whoever it’s helpful for. I give this out all the time. Here you go. Because it’s not intrusive.

So one last question if I may Amy, I could talk about this for ages so fascinating but. Clarity and security for those we leave behind is one of five parts of financial wellbeing. Let’s just have a little talk about money and particularly people who have perhaps a life ending illness. Or people maybe dealing with the immediate aftermath. But I am particularly thinking of people who have a life ending illness about getting their affairs in order. Have you seen anything you could recommend, good ideas or tips about that area.

Amy Florian
Absolutely. Actually, it becomes more imperative when you get that diagnosis. All of this is things we should be doing all along. Because you don’t always get the diagnosis. You may get the car accident, you might get the sudden heart attack. You might get a diagnosis and two days later, you die, you might not have time to get your affairs in order, we’ve all ought to have our affairs in order all our lives. Families, after a loved one dies I’ve seen them spend months, searching under mattresses, through drawers, in file cabinets, trying to put things together. I’ve seen cases where people have not visited their beneficiaries, in years. Then they die unexpectedly, and their beneficiaries are all wrong. Recently, a young 36 year old mother, wife and mother, died in a scuba diving accident very unexpected. Her life insurance still listed her parents as the beneficiary, not her husband, not her daughter. There’s so many things that we need to get in ahead of time. Having a last will and testament, having insurance. Insurance is not about you dying, it’s about your family living. It’s about if you died last night what would your family be worried about today? Would they be worried whether they could keep the house they just bought, would they be worried whether the kids or the grandkids could go to college? Life insurance is a way to help your family live whether you’re there in person to do it or not. And not just financial things healthcare things too. We know that the survivors of a loved one’s death grieve with more peace and less guilt and less second guessing, if they are not required to make medical decisions for their loved ones without knowing what their loved ones want. When they know what their loved ones want, that takes away the family fights. Mom would want to be hooked up to that machine, no she never wanted to be hooked up to a machine now how do you know. What do you want, what do you want for your medical treatment? What do you want your life to look like? Do you want some doctor in the ER who never met you to make your decisions or do you want to have them written down ahead of time? We also need to live as if we could die tonight, because we could. So when’s the last time you said I love you to the people that you love? Where’s the balance in your life, when’s, how, how much time do you spend yelling out or complaining to or complaining to someone else about the people you love versus the amount of time you say thank you? I am so proud, I am so happy to be your daughter, your wife, your sister, your friend. Thank you for the gift you are to my life. I appreciate you. I love you. Where’s the balance? We need to be keeping that in mind all the time. When we’re angry with somebody what is it worth? Is it something that’s worth sticking your stake in the sand and being angry and holding a grudge about, or is it something that in the big picture really isn’t that important and maybe you can just let it go? Living so that if we die tonight we have as few regrets as possible. If we die tonight the people we love know we’d love them. If we die tonight we know we have lived well. And we’ve made a difference. That’s, that’s the real underlying message that I wish people would get across, love the people you love and love them fiercely, live as fully as you can, every day that you have makes the world a better place.

I’ve never thought of it before that way, that clarity for those we leave behind includes, if I died tomorrow, would they know I loved them? I’ve never thought of that clarity in that way so that’s absolutely fantastic. Amy I can listen to you for weeks. It was so fascinating I really, really do appreciate you coming to talk to us. We will be doing lots of show notes lots of information about your, your work in your books, etc. And I would recommend anybody go and have a look at your website corgenius.com. I’ve just been reading when grief becomes depression, so many great tips and ideas on there for people. But I guess if there was one thing that I would take away from this, it’s engage, don’t avoid. Would that be a reasonable summation of your message?

Amy Florian
Engage don’t avoid, support the present.

Amy thank you so much for your time.

Amy Florian
You’re welcome. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

That was absolutely brilliant. Now Chris, I don’t often compliment you because you get to swollen headed, but I just thought that was a really sensitive interview really really well done for that. And I could tell, obviously, it affected you quite deeply as well, and it affected me perhaps in a different way. And I’ve been fairly open about the fact that my wife died, seven years ago, seven years. And a lot of the things that Amy talks about I’ve experienced them myself. You know that thing of nothing will ever take away the memory of somebody who you love dying in your arms. The grief of that is palpable and real. However, the way which you deal with it, and most importantly, the way in which people around you help you deal with it, is absolutely vital. And a lot of the things that she talked about there were things that in the early years after Dinah’s death, you know, I experienced as well. And I think the thing that I took away from that most is when she says, What do you wish people knew? You know, it’s a great question. I think the way in which she frames that question. I’ve also recently actually just, Chris this is somebody you will know as well, mourned the death of a very close friend. And it is how you deal with that. When I was talking to her husband about it, it was very close friend of mine, was able to pass on some of my feelings. The thing that I was able to say to him was not, Oh, you must really miss her, I was able to say, you know what, I really really miss her. I really miss her. And, you know, you must miss her too. And it’s just a different way of framing it and so I thought that was great, really, really interesting stuff to say that.

Yeah, so I thought you, David, would find that quite effecting yourself. The line that, well one of the many lines that I liked was, every grieving person wants to know that their loved ones made a difference. And that’s completely changed how I would speak to somebody who’s greiveing. Completely changed it. Just to share a story with them, to suggest an anecdote. Remember when… Someone is sharing that grief and then sharing it obviously is easing the load one hopes. Did you find David things that particularly worked or particularly didnt work?

I think I think certainly the sharing is really important, it’s that it’s, it’s, you know, when people are tiptoeing around, you know, when people don’t want to say that it might upset him. Listen, if you’re wife’s died, you’re going to be upset. And clearly you’re going to have feelings about it. So I think the important thing for me was when people were just honest. And if they said yeah I’m upset, you know, you must be upset too. Yeah, we could sometimes have a cry together. And I think that was great what Amy said, you know, I am I’m prone to tears anyway. But it’s a time when I’m feeling sad about things, particularly the death of a loved one. If you need to have a cry, have a cry. And if you need to have a cry with somebody else, have a cry with somebody else, but also remember the good times as well, because a lot of the things and this applies. Particularly as well to the friend I just lost, at the funeral and at the wake as I did with my wife when she died. We spent a lot of time laughing and remembering the good times we had together. And I think another thing that Amy said we should live our lives as fully as possible enriched by the memory of that person. And not to get bogged down by it, some people really never get over the death of a loved one or a parent of a sibling. And who am I to say that they shouldn’t always carry that sadness with them. But I think after a while that’s not good. So, you need to crack on with your life and also the other crucial thing, and this goes back to what Tight Ass Tommo was saying earlier, let’s plan for our death, make sure you, as Amy said, make sure we’ve all got a will. Make sure we’ve got the appropriate, life insurance. Because in the end, when that person is dead, you’re the person, you and your family and your siblings or whoever it might be are the people who are going to have to deal with that. So, the biggest gift I think that we can all give to those who are going to mourn us when were gone is to make sure that we plan for it as best as we can.

Producer Tommo
Yeah, I think that is a lovely link. Grieving is hard enough without having to worry about finances.

Yeah I have, sorry to inturpt, I have in the light of this recent pandemic revisited my will, as well. It’s interesting to hear what Amy said. And I realized that actually, my will hadn’t been updated, you know, for years and actually I left everything to my wife, who was dead. So, you know, you need to sort of update that, it’s very easy to just let that slip by. So, I think, planning and doing the right thing very very important. I speak as a non financial person who has learnt that absolutely.

Producer Tommo
I think, from my point of view, this is probably more reaching out to those who are practicing advisors who listen to this podcast. The key message from it well firstly plattitudes are not particularly helpful, I think we can all slip into that because there’s a comfort zone, which it shouldnt be about us being comfortable. But it was simply, she said ask questions. And that was a big thing I took away from it and I will take into my professional life in particular is that when we do. I am confronted by by death in, in what I do for a living. Unfortunately. And we want to be there to support those who are left behind and just ignore the platitudes, ask questions and sharing those experiences. I felt it really, that listenening to that interview, I found really helpful and I will take that onboard.

Just one thing as well, I remember somebody saying to me. Not long after Dinah died. It was well meant. And they said, well, don’t worry because she will be an angel in heaven now. And I wanted to punch them in the face. Because because anybody that knew Dianah would have known that she would not have subscribed to that principle of heaven and hell the angels, all of that. Also I knew that the person that said that was not even themselves, a religious person. And it was, it was the glibbest most platitudinous that anybody could have said, but they said it for the right reasons because they didn’t know what else to say. So I think that is spot on Tom, avoid platitudes, speak from the heart. Because people could cope with that ,speak from the heart.

I know this has been a very long podcast. I just want to finish with one thought because there’s also the fact that grief doesn’t just come from death grief, grief comes from change. I think Amy’s line was – positive transitions trigger grief. And that could be retirement, not being properly prepared for retirement, for example, having something else to do, can be a huge wrench for people. And the world is going through an almighty change in the moment and we are all suffering, a little bit of grief at the changes we see around us. So I think it’s important to respect that grief and to help each other, by asking each other. How are you feeling today, which is a key question.

Producer Tommo
Questions, it comes back to those questions and I think the point about retirement, it’s very important one. I will just finish on the personal experiences as we are in a sharing mood. I didn’t realize it at the time. But I realized that when, and I love him to bits, but when my son Toby was born. And I’d gone through that first real struggle as a parent. I was grieving for my former life. Not that I was unhappy with my life that that, I had, it’s what we wanted and are very fortunate. But I agree for the freedom of being an adult without children, and it didn’t dawn on me that actually it was just the transition I was getting used to. And it was really helpful to know that that was quite normal. And just came from speaking to other people in similar position. So, yeah, very, very insightful from from from that interview. That’s great.

Indeed. Well, listen, I hope you at home are taking something from that podcast. I think we all found it very profound, very interesting, and I hope you’ll join us again at some point in the not too distant future for another one of our financial wellbeing podcasts.

By | 2020-08-27T08:54:20+01:00 August 23rd, 2020|Podcast|Comments Off on Episode 65 – Amy Florian on Grief, Loss & Transitions

About the Author: