I am both a financial planner to clients and consultant to other financial planners. I help clients and advisors navigate grief by providing deep insight into what grief is and how to navigate financial matters after the death of a loved one.
In 2008, at the peak of the recession, I lost my mother to cancer in August and my father to a broken heart in November. In 2010, my grandmother passed away after a stroke. Then a heart wrenching experience in 2012 of losing my oldest child.
I became a financial planner in 2003 during the process of helping my parents in their declining health. In 2011, three years after my parents passed, I became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to better help families in need. Shortly after starting my own financial planning firm, Life After Grief Financial Planning® I was compelled to start Life After Grief Consulting®. Through my consulting practice I teach advisors how to navigate client grief to help them move through financial and emotional grief without damaging their professional relationships. In 2021, I became a Certified Financial Transitionist® to complete my personal and professional experience with formal education and scientific theory.
My personal experiences and knowledge of grief and loss of loved ones helps me to understand and assist families enduring similar situations. I’ve helped over 400 families navigate many financial issues and life circumstances such as grieving loss of loved ones.
If you are griever or anyone at all looking for help with your personal situation go to lifeaftergrieffp.com.
If you are an advisor looking looking to support your client in grief go to lifeaftergriefconsulting.com.
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Welcome to Real talk with life after grief Chris where we talk about relevant issues as it relates to individuals in grief as they navigate finances, and the advisors who help them. We help clients in grief navigate financial matters. We also teach advisors how to emotionally and financially work with clients in grief through an unparalleled process. This week's episode is sponsored by life after grief, financial planning, and life after grief consulting. Hello, and welcome to Real talk with life after grief. Chris, what is real talk with life after grief Chris, it is a blog to give folks hope and support for life after grief. And hopefully a little education along the way. Let me go into some of my background and real life experiences. Some of this will make sense. I've been a griever since 1994. I've been a caregiver since 2000. I've been a financial planner since 2003. I've been a certified financial planner since 2011. I've been a life after griever since 2013. I've been a hospice volunteers since 2017. And I have been a certified financial transition just since 2021. a certified financial transition is basically I'm trained to help clients navigate through major life events and the financial transitions that accompany them, and affordably got my bachelor's and education with a minor in Business at the University of Florida and I specialized in psychology. Now for the meat of the inaugural episode. So many folks know some things about me. And I'd like to kind of go into detail of what makes chris chris. So in 1994, my mother was formally diagnosed with breast cancer. My father was the one to give me the news. And my father was a very calming force in my life, and he downplayed the significance of the diagnosis. I would later find out that my mother's cancer was very significant. And they would have life altering changes on me, my brother, my dad and my mom. So in 1994, after I graduated from high school, I went off to college. And shortly thereafter, my mother and father separated, they didn't separate because they wanted to they separated because my mother's cancer was progressing at a rapid pace. She went to MD Anderson in Houston, because it was recommended that she have a bone marrow transplant along with the radiation and chemotherapy. And you can imagine what I felt like and what my father felt like and my brother who was in the Midwest, he felt completely helpless. And I had feelings of despair. I was crying, I was depressed. My dad's feelings.
He was very depressed, and he felt very alone. And there was one time he called me, it was out of his character. And he asked me to come home. And he was crying on the phone. And he just felt, I felt that he was in a moment of despair and didn't know we know where to turn. So he turned to me, you know, I went home, and we walked through a lot of things. You know, shortly thereafter, my mother came back. And things seemed to get back on track, you know, things that I visually saw my mother, she lost all of her hair, and she was very weak, but she seemed to gather her strength for the next couple of years. And shortly after I graduated. Before 2000, I had started noticing some odd behavior from my mother, my mother seemed to, you know, either forget things, or she would seem to really exaggerate on things that are transpiring. I remember very distinctly one time that she said that her my father, we're going to get a divorce. My parents were married for 40 years. And that was the furthest thing from my mind, and really, my father's mind, but I also realized my father was becoming increasingly agitated with my mother. My father was a very patient person. So in the year 2000, I was well into my career, and I was a manager at a local bank of america here in Orlando, and I got a call from my father. And what transpired from that phone call would forever change the trajectory of all of our lives. The cancer was one thing, but this next event really changed things. My mother was at a medical provider and was having a, what I would call a psychotic episode. My father called the ambulance and the fire department came and they attempted to get my mother out of my parent's car, and no one could get her out of the car and my father asked me to come and I got there and my mother was just speaking Basically in tongues as best way I could describe it, I was the only one that was able to get her out of the car to convince her to get out of the car. And she went to the hospital. And after a couple days in the hospital, they Baker acted my mother. And so if you don't know what that means, it's basically they hold you under supervision. And they medicate you while they evaluate your psychiatric where with all over the next eight years or so, we would be dealing with my mother and her Alzheimers, which we came to ultimately find out, I would become a secondary caregiver. My father was my mother's primary caregiver, but I was overseeing the entire operation basically. And, you know, things that I would go through, I had to learn about their finances, I had to go to a lot of doctor's appointments. And I was now acting as a parent for both of my folks, my mother was in and out of the hospital. My father was also in and out of the hospital during this time, due to, you know, his various ailments and the overwhelming stress that happened with my mom. And then also during this period, I had a lot of bad advice from professionals, specifically, elder care attorneys, I learned a lot by fire, I also became my mother's power of attorney, my wife and I purchased their home, you know, we did that in anticipation of my parents running out of money, and to avoid any conflict with my brother, you know, in regards to any assets that were left over. And then we also had to deal with respite caregivers, my father ultimately needed a break a lot. And we needed someone to be with my mother 24 seven, and my father was attempting to work and earn a living at this time. And, you know, fast forward, you know, getting through a lot of that, I learned a tremendous amount. One of the things that I took away was ultimately how to recharge, how to separate myself from situations, and then how to be extremely efficient at time management, you can imagine all of those things were wrapped up into one. And so in May of 2008, my mother went to the hospital, we can no longer care for her at home, she had a another episode, and she was in a situation to where she may have been harmful to herself. And as a result of going to the hospital, she was placed in a nursing home. So we also had to figure that out very quickly. And then the expense that came along with the nursing home, the nursing home that we selected was $5,000 a month, and the $5,000 a month was at my expense. And you can imagine how daunting that was for a 20 something year old. But again, I learned by fire and there were some things that I did in advance of that to you know, make sure that my mother can have the best possible care. And in May of 2008, when she went to the hospital, she had a couple of lesions on her spine, her cancer came back, it came back roughly 14 years after it was in remission. And in August of 2008, she had probably 12 to 15 lesions on her spine. I very distinctly remember the doctor when my mother entered the hospital this final time saying that her cancer was going to be slow moving. And it ultimately was not it was very fast moving and they could put her on, you know, medications and things like that to slow the progression. Ultimately, the doctor was wrong. In August, my mother passed away. And some of the thing the other decisions. And the information that I found out was my mother didn't want to be on life support. We had family meeting to discover that nor did my father. And there was a situation to where my mother stopped eating. And my father wanted to put a feeding tube in my mother and I had to be the one to come to my father and say that we need to honor her wishes you can imagine that was a very difficult conversation between my father and I, ultimately, you know, I made that decision. And I have no regrets because it was what my mother wanted. But I did have to you know, the nurse called me, the hospice nurse, and let me know first that my mother passed, and then I had to give that information to my father and that was disseminated to the rest of my family. So over the next couple of months, you know, I was trying to help my dad progress in life. But I also had to remember that, you know, he just lost his spouse at 40 years. And my father was still living in the house and the house was becoming a financial burden for me and my wife. My father had no income at this point. And I was going to have to move my father out of his home even though my wife and I purchased it. It was still my mother and father's home. And I was in the discovery phase of it. someplace close to us. And then my father ended up passing away in November of 2008, he passed away ultimately from an infection that he had. And the infection, you know, led to, ultimately a heart attack. And I had some guilt around that situation because while he was in the hospital, the doctors said that they needed to change a port in his arm, and I gave him the Go ahead, and his body couldn't, it couldn't rebound. From the surgery, I had a lot of guilt because I made that decision. But it was ultimately in the best interest for my father, his infection. The doctors that said to me, he probably would have passed away shortly thereafter anyways, then after you know, get imagine after that situation, I had to deal with the house, I had to renovate the house, I had to make the decision to rent it or sell it. And that was at the bottom of the housing market. So I decided to rent the house. Fast forward, a year and a half later, my paternal grandmother passed away. And she had a stroke, and you know, kind of had to go through the dynamics of vetting a nursing home and finding a nursing home. However, she was in a different state, and my brother was kind of managing that situation. While I was managing that from afar, that was a very difficult situation, as you can imagine, it was so soon after my parents passed, and the day that I came back from my grandmother's funeral, I got several phone calls and text messages from my neighbor saying that the police are raiding your parents house, you can imagine the thoughts and the emotion that was going through my mind, I asked my neighbor to give the police officer, my phone number, the police officer called me and said that we suspect that one of the tenants in the home were housing, large amounts of marijuana. And that was news to me. If anyone knows me, or knows about me, I've never done any drugs, any kind of drugs at all, and had no idea how this situation kind of evolved. And I just asked the police officers, please don't damage the house. Luckily, I surrounded myself prior to that point by good friends and professionals, one of which it was a defense attorney who helped me through the situation and one was a real estate attorney. So we dealt with that situation appropriately. And then I got on to the next phase of life. And as you can imagine, I had to put all of my grief on hold to deal with the financial implications of my parents passing and then immediately move on to this situation of grief with my grandmother. After the situation with my grandmother, I hit rock bottom. as you can well imagine, I had extreme bouts of anxiety, I had extreme bouts of depression. And I didn't know where to go, I utilized alcohol to numb the pain. And I got to a point where that was no longer effective. So I sought out my personal priest who I've known since I was a teenager. And he recommended that I go to group grief counseling and in group grief counseling, I realized that I was very young to have these experiences first and foremost. But the experiences that I was going through were normal, and they normalize what I was going through, and they said that, ultimately your experiences are going to help other people and their experiences in life. What I also did was going to medical missionary trip to Ghana, it was 10 days of healing and completely giving to others, one of the best trips of my life. And I would do it in a heartbeat again, my support system helped me I had a lot of people that I needed to say sorry to I affected a lot of people during that time of my anger, pain negatively. And I also went on a church retreat focusing on men, and I was very introspective and my life and you know my focus in life and what I need to do to help other people. I also began journaling during this time, which was a relief from some of the anxiety that I felt and I still do that today if I read situations that I need help through. So all of this set me up for what I would say was the hardest grief situation in my life. My wife and I were expecting twins and 2012 one of my twins was born early, and he ultimately did not survive. If you know anything about twins once one twin is born, the other twin normally follows and it was a situation to where my second son, he didn't want to leave the womb he came I think it was about a week late, and he was a medical miracle. That was my wife and I's first experience with life after grief. My son Eli, who was a twin, who Living his name has biblical significance. And then we had our third son Two years later, Gideon, and he, you know, further exemplified our life after grief. And when my wife and I never looked back, and you can imagine, there were several grief decisions that I had to make and, you know, my wife had to make, and probably one of the hardest situations, the most, most heart wrenching decisions my wife and I had to ever make was to tell our boys about their brother. And their response was so implemented emblematic of everything that we went through. They simply said, Why didn't you tell us earlier? My wife and I learned a lot about ourselves and how each other grieves at that moment. And it brought us as a family a lot closer together and we talk about my oldest son who is no longer with us His name is Christopher course, it really brought things with grief, full circle. And you know, now I use my experiences, my knowledge and my education to help grieving families in front of you, their advisors overcome obstacles, so they too can experience life after grief. And ultimately, these experiences have led me to this blog. And you know, I really want to help other people to experience what I've experienced, I've had a long road and not every day is rosy, but I continue to fight through and I have a tremendous support system. God first and foremost, my family, my friends. You may have pulled out some things from this podcast like financial decisions and times agree support systems experience, recharging self help, resources and tips and frankly, resiliency. And I've utilized a lot of that information for future podcast, some of the ones in the future that you can, you know, expect to hear how do I grieve, normalcy and timelines, what to say and what not to say to a griever. eldercare helpful hence,
family dysfunction, vetting the dreaded nursing home, the sandwich generation, and then in each of the podcasts are going to be various links to specific information and where to get them. Those are just some of the podcasts that you can look forward to. Hopefully my experience and education can go to help you through your experience through grief. And also if you're an advisor, you know you have nowhere to go to help your client you can start here you know you can really find ways to help your clients navigate grief. I really hope you learn a lot along the way and I hope you enjoy the ride. And please feel free to share this podcast or anyone's to come with your family, friends or colleagues. see on the next episode.
Thank you for listening to our podcast. If you are a client and are looking to work directly with me Chris and or my firm head on over to life after grief FP that is life. After grief FP the FP is for financial planning.com if you are an advisor looking to emotionally and financially work with your client and grief or if you are a client looking to get your advisors head in the game head on over to life after grief consulting.com that is life after grief. consulting.com any information referenced in this week's podcast will be located here in the podcast section. And as always, please feel free to share this week's podcast with any friend, family member or colleague. Thanks for listening. See you next week on the next episode.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai