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How to Work with a Client Who's Grieving

Your support and compassion can bring comfort during this difficult time

As a financial advisor, you help clients navigate many life transitions, from managing career changes to launching children off to college and choosing a time to retire. And you’ll almost certainly work with clients who are facing one of life’s most challenging transitions — the loss of a loved one.

Empathy and compassion are essential when responding to a client who is grieving. But it’s often hard to know exactly what to do. Whether your client lost a partner, parent, child or loved one, these tips can help you support them during this difficult time.

Reach Out Right Away

You can send a condolence email to your client when you learn they have suffered a loss. It can be hard to know what to say to a client who has lost a family member — a brief, sincere message should be enough. Choose an appropriate subject line, such as “So sorry for your loss,” “My condolences” or “Thinking of you.” Then pass along your sympathy, share a memory in a sentence or two and offer your support.

Depending on your relationship with your client and their loved one, you may also want to mail a card or contribute to an association or organization mentioned in the obituary. If you’ve had a long-standing relationship with the client or see them as a friend as well as a client, it is appropriate to attend the funeral.

Save the Big Decisions for Later

Knowing how to help a grieving client means working with them to pace their decisions. When your client’s grief is raw, they might not be able to focus on financial matters. Their loss may cloud their judgment, or they might need time to focus on their loss without jumping into financial decisions.

Even if you think it would be wise for them to make some financial changes right away, consider how they are feeling and evaluate whether they can postpone these decisions for a little while. Offer help with things that can’t wait long, like paying bills and applying for death benefits. Save big-picture financial decisions like selling a home, rebalancing a portfolio or investing life-insurance proceeds for later.

Look for Ways to Make Your Client Comfortable

Connect with your client and find out where and how they would prefer to meet. Maybe you always had in-person meetings with a couple, but the surviving spouse isn’t ready to leave the house. You can reach out and explore whether a phone call, video conference or in-home meeting might be a better option.

In your initial meeting after their loss, you might simply want to check in on your client without bringing up business. Follow your client’s lead and watch for signs that they are feeling overwhelmed. Don’t be surprised if a grieving client cries and let them know it’s okay to express their feelings. They may want you to listen as they share memories of their loved one.

Choose a Profession Where You Can Help People in All Aspects of Their Lives

At Farm Bureau, we’re here to support our clients in their times of joy and in their times of sorrow. Be part of the team and join Farm Bureau Wealth Management today.