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Grief and the Bank. Wednesday March 5, 2014

Grief is not a linear process. Since July last year when our uncle (effectively our father) died, my siblings and I have all at various times found ourselves suddenly crying for no apparent reason and then for weeks at a time we've been fine.

We knew that the first year would be tough as it's a year of firsts: his birthday, the first family Christmas without his quiet presence in the corner, the children's birthdays with no birthday letter.

The healing is not smoothly gradual however; we can all be unexpectedly swamped again in the emotional mire. When I heard last week that someone else had moved into his cottage it was like a physical blow.

Yesterday was particularly grim. We are just on the final push to obtain probate. There is a lot of administration and it feels as if the whole of his eighty plus years of loving kindness and gentlemanly conduct has been reduced to a mere balance sheet and set of official forms. The accountant and the solicitor are gentle but relentlessly professional and there's no comfort there.

The bank is not the place you would immediately think to find solace in grief, but the Estates Department of my uncle's bank have been wonderful. They too have been professional but yet compassionate and yesterday the lady I spoke with reassured me that it was absolutely OK to be in tears on the phone to her as I organised the closing of his account. Everyone I have spoken to in that department exhibits the other side of banking – the side that never hits the newspapers. They understand that when the material things a person leaves behind are distilled into a list of numbers on an official form, the inadequacy of those numbers to represent all the love left behind triggers a lot of emotion. They have been very kind and understanding.

The acceptance and kindness of strangers is always a surprise yet it is immensely valuable. If we allow people their feelings and emotions in even the smallest and most business-like transactions we validate their humanity and raise immeasurably the quality of that transaction.

So Nat West, thank you for your assistance and understanding. Today the forms have all been completed. The sun was shining from a blue sky this morning and yes, it's a better day today.

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 8:00am

Oh, Mary! I feel with you and I feel like you are such a good person. There is no point in saying good luck, because it seems you take the inevitable. May you never loose your wise attitude towars life.

heather Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 8:11am

Mary that was wonderfully moving and beautifully written. I do so hope that you will feel the sympathy and empathy from all of us. Heather (a Blogger)

Matt Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 9:44am

This is lovely - My dad passed away about three weeks ago and we are all in the process of sorting everything out and this post made me smile....I only wish HMRC were as kind as Nat West were ref your uncle!

Nothing about my father was conventional - he was an inventor and trod a very different path to the rest of it should come as no surprise that nothing about his financial and business affairs are straight forward!!

But this blog post allowed me to think about the man and not the bureaucracy - so thank you!

julie royle Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 1:11pm

i am amazed how the body copes when grieving for a loved one when my mother died I could hold it together to get the practical things done. One of the days my dad and some of the siblings went to choose a resting place I was to meet them later anyway I got to the car park and I realised that I had forgotten my bag so I had no money for the car park I got out of the car I saw a middle aged respectable looking couple and I asked could they lend me 70p they looked at me like dirt and walked on I got in the car and I cried, i went to a cousins house to borrow money I was still an emotional wreck anyway she was not in there was workmen in her house they asked what was wrong and dug into there pockets and gave me app £5 in change from that moment on myself and my sister started counting kindness and it was amazing the things that happened and how it turned my mood again.
well done to your bank Mary for being so understanding condolences to you on the loss of a beloved uncle I hope things are sorted soon then start remembering the happy times julie xx

Anonymous Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 4:12pm

Dear Mary; thank-you so much for sharing your pain and for helping me to understand better the reality of grief; "Grief is not a linear process" - even now, 4 significant bereavements wiser, I still expect the grieving process to be linear ...and I also expect the healing to be smoothly gradual; I shall pin these quotes up to remind me, and to give myself permission to grieve as I should. Hubby likens grief to waves - sometimes they gently lap at your toes, other times they submerge you and there may be no apparent reason for doing so... For me, grief also has a physical impact (fatigue, getting every virus going, finding it difficult to eat) I wish you and yours peace of mind and heart and thank-you again for your words of wisdom. Frankie

Silvia A Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 6:40pm

Thumbs up!

Silvia A Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 6:48pm

Touching comments.
Thumbs up for all them. English is not my mother toungue, nor I find the words or have the time to write all I wished. The idea of thumbs up as used in social media means that I read and found it relevant, good, useful or whatever.

Anonymous Wed, Mar 5th 2014 @ 7:25pm

"The kindness of strangers is immensely valuable". Absolutely.
And when we are able, it really helps US to be that kind stranger.

Anonymous Thu, Mar 6th 2014 @ 8:18am

My husband is that kind stranger, I can't tell you the number of times he has pulled over or run ahead to help push a broken down car and/or lend a hand in other circumstances. Its in his nature, he is a very caring man, I appreciate and love him very much.

The Entertrainer Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 7:39am

Some more "Mary magic" - you are a wonderfully emotive writer. Your blogs reach so deeply inside and truly touch me. Wonderful to hear that people at the bank have been people and not just processors. That's a good thing to remember, businesses are full of people... just like you and me. I shall remember to be a person today and not just professional.

Anonymous Fri, Mar 7th 2014 @ 8:53am

A most heartwarming post. Thankyou

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