By Lois Bass
Clinton, Utah, USA
A few year ago, after my husband died of an unexpected heart attack, my life went into a spin and stayed there for months. You’ve heard of “operating on automatic pilot.” That’s what I did. Sometimes I couldn’t handle it all, and I would “lose it,” often in the form of becoming so agitated that I wasn’t reasonable.
I had no one else to help me handle the myriad details, as our kids were grown with lives of their own. I was still managing a business where my husband and I had been hired as a couple. Many of my clients helped by being empathetic; a few were more helpful than they ever knew. One lady who had experienced the death of her young husband from lung cancer was extremely helpful. She motivated me to seek counseling to help me through the grieving process. Her forthrightness shocked and angered me at first, but when she told me about her own loss and grieving, it got through to me.
I just couldn’t stand to see my husband’s name, along with mine, on our personal checks. Yet I had to return to the bank with copies of the death certificate to prove Glenn’s demise before I could take his name off our bank accounts. Of course, I had to do this same errand in so many places, at the utilities and so forth. The day I went back to the bank to provide the death certificate, the teller said the wrong thing to me, and I came close to losing complete control.
The next thing I remember, a lady came out of her office, took me gently by the arm, and led me into her office. I was crying so hard that I nearly collapsed. She got me out of the lobby where people were staring at me and unsure of what to do. She got me a cup of coffee and just sat and chatted with me, giving me time to collect myself again. She provided me with plenty of Kleenex and also completed all the paperwork necessary to change the accounts.
She asked some gentle questions but was never rude, intrusive, or impatient. Her soothing voice and manner, her gentle understanding, and the way she handled such a painfully embarrassing scene were wonderful, unexpected gifts to me. I will never forget her kindness and compassion. Then she led me out a side door so I wouldn’t have to be further embarrassed by looks or stares from the tellers or patrons still in the bank.
Many people offered an empathetic hand to me throughout that difficult first year, and I’m grateful to everyone who did. But this lady was exceptional. She could have viewed this as merely a business transaction that I had to complete, yet she saved the day for me.