In the mystical book, “The Divine Matrix“, Gregg Braden tells how he posed a question to a lifelong monk in a monastery in a remote mountain village. He asked the monk to define what is the energy that connects all of us? The monk offered the simple answer…compassion.
It is a fact, that in this business of estate planning, our vulnerability as people becomes “front and center” because this planning involves appointing others to do the things that one is currently capable (usually) of doing themselves. This very task calls for great compassion.
Yet sometimes, in our fast paced and often disconnected world, this simple fact can be easy for the professionals and even loved ones to forget.
Estate Planning is a Compassion Centered Process
Estate Planning Is A Compassion Centered Profession Because Even If People Are Currently Self Sufficient They Are Facing Issues Of One’s Own Eventual Frailty and Mortality.
It may sound obvious that this process can make someone feel vulnerable and thus compassion is necessary. However, my point is actually much deeper than this. In modern day society, because of the influence of science as it has evolved in the west, we often maintain the belief that we are separate from everyone else. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and frustration and sometimes self absorption . However, what if this sense of separation is really the illusion and we are all connected in ways that are more profound that we can ever know? This paradigm shift can bring the idea of practicing compassion into an entirely new light.
One of the great blessings of practicing in this area of law, as I’ve mentioned, estate planning inspires the strong because people are at their best, most loving, and most generous when focusing on loving endeavors such as estate planning. However, I’ve never elaborated on the fact that many aging people are also at their most compassionate during the process of estate planning. In turn, while I acknowledge the many younger individuals who I’ve observed as extremely devoted and caring, I have also observed the opposite unfold in the callousness of youth…perhaps overwhelmed with the burdens of caring for an aging loved one or focused on the potential inheritance down the road.
So, if you have aging loved ones, I encourage you to step back for a second and consider that when you offer comfort, understanding and support, you are also giving this to yourself because of the connectedness that we all share. Also, I encourage you to consider that fact that your aging loved ones are being very brave in making the effort to consider the welfare of others when they could just be focused on spending the money and going out with a bang.
In the context of compassion, estate planning takes on a expansive meaning and can become a time to fully celebrate life while acknowledging (and getting comfortable) with the reality of impending loss, because as the funny saying goes…”no one is getting outta this alive”…that cracks me up. Compassion helps in this process because when it is present, I’ve observed that it empowers the entire family with grace and peace. In this sense, when you offer compassion to others, you receive it for yourself.
Compassionate Estate Planning [How it Looks in Practice]
Most of the time aging people just want to be listened to. Sometimes, folks who are ill at ease just want to be assured that you have their best interest in mind. Remember, they are facing things that you may not yet be obliged to face and this can be a frightening process. Other times, folks just want to share the closeness with loved ones in the present moment.
Remember that is always okay to ask loved ones what they need? If you don’t do it now…you could regret it later.
Steve Gibbs, Esq.