Clients come to me from all walks of life – single moms and CEO’s, young and old, big families and small. But there is one constant that unites all of them – I have had a loss and I am heartsick – what do I do?
I find that loss is one of the great equalizers of life. When it comes down to it, not a single one of us will escape some kind of loss at some point in life. Whether it be the death of a loved one, a serious diagnosis, the loss of a job or house, things happen that knock us off our compass and can rattle us to our core.
There are common things most of us seem to experience, at least the folks who seek me out:
1. People want to know if what they are feeling is ok, and they seek reassurance.
2. People have challenges with family and friends and need advice on how to manage that.
3. People are confused about how to grieve well and move forward after the devastation.
So I find that these (and other) questions are very common across all strata.
But it is a fact that the well-off have flexibility and resources that most may not, not matter how debilitating their loss may be.
1. Final Arrangements: Working class families often have to make heartbreakingly difficult choices about funerals, burial and memorials based on money rather than what their beloved wanted, or what their heart tells them. In my research, I have found that the average cost of a funeral in America is somewhere between $6000 and $10,000. Casket, embalming, plot, burial, transportation, personnel, and so much more – and most folks don’t have that kind of money lying around. And where I live in the NY area, the costs can be much higher. Cremation or green burials can be less expensive, but are not an option for many people. But the well-off may not have these concerns and can have the flexibility to do what they wish, as well as honor the wishes of the deceased.
2. Healing Time: The well-to-do are much more able to take time off work (if they work), not only for the funeral, but for bereavement. I know so many working folks, single moms and blue collar families who have to go back to work right away because their paid time off has been used and they cannot afford to stay home. Then their grief gets buried (and festers) while they try to continue to act “normal.” The time off most are granted is three days – a drop in the bucket as far as real healing work is concerned. The wealthy may be able to get away, take a vacation, stop working for six months and gather themselves again for the new journey they must take. But no cop, teacher or mother of little kids can just drop off the earth without others to support hem, financially and emotionally.
3. Support: Finally, therapy or a grief coach is much more affordable for those who can afford it! Getting quality care after a loss is so key to the healing process. But fewer and fewer insurance plans are covering therapy well, and not all therapists are well-trained in Grief & Loss. And so again, the suffering continues.
I don’t say this to vilify the rich (that’s pointless), but rather to make the case that quality grief & loss support should be common and normalized and affordable, no matter one’s socioeconomic status. It’s not a class thing – it’s a human thing.