Nick's Notes

I’m back

It has been a while since I last blogged, though through the wonders of foresight not quite so long since you read my last blog.

A lot has happened over the past few weeks, most notably for me my Mother died. Those of you who read this blog regularly know she had dementia, so in many ways it was a release for her as her increasing confusion and lack of understanding made her final weeks very difficult for her. But it is still a big loss.

I now understand something expressed by others who have been bereaved about the awkwardness of some acquaintances. Friends and close colleagues get it right – and sometimes no words are necessary. But for others I would say it’s really ok to say sorry for your loss, or similar words. Don’t dwell on it though – I can cope with almost everything but sympathy is particularly hard to cope with. I will remember this in future when I need to acknowledge someone else’s loss.

After my Mother’s funeral I had the opportunity to meet many more of her friends and acquaintances in the village where she had lived for 40 years. I was struck again by the selflessness of the help so many gave her as her confusion grew.

Reading a recent copy of The Times Matt Ridley returns to an old theme of his. Pessimism dominates the news agenda, and somehow makes people seem wiser than optimism does. Yet there are so many reasons to be optimistic and thankful that we live in such a civilised country where the rule of law is observed.

Dealing with my Mother’s estate as her Executor makes me realise at another level how decent this country is. From the kindness of strangers at organisations she interacted with dealing with my requests to close accounts to the more legal aspects of working with DWP, HMRC and the banks, people seek to help, and to ensure that her estate has received all that is due to it. Of course, there are also taxes due to be paid as well, but these matters are dealt with carefully and with respect.

Of the banks my mother used I would call out Barclays as having been particularly helpful and easy to work with. They have kept me up to date and minimised the paperwork necessary to close accounts. HSBC started well but has become a bit slow and ponderous. Then there are others I would not wish to work with again, given the choice. Some banks are so bureaucratic as to be unhelpful, and in my mother’s case utterly disproportionate to the money she had in their accounts.

And if there is any cross-over into the business world in this personal blog it is simply to invite you to review your processes for bereavement handling. It is the final element of customer service. For me right now it makes a huge difference to how I think about various organisations and increases my loyalty to those that get it right. It is really helpful to receive an email or a call explaining what I need to do. It is useful to be able to make the initial contact online, as there are so many contacts to make and there is an emotional drain from calling to tell yet another organisation what has happened.

I really appreciate those who make it easy. After all they deal with many, many cases of bereavement. Hopefully, I will only be an Executor once or twice.

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