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After Death of Mother, Father, or Close Relative

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I consider this one of the best letters I've ever written. My Mother's sudden death was a shock to me, and it awakened me to what others suffering similar losses might be feeling. Our culture denies death, so that after the death of a loved-one, we're expected to return to work the following week having "gotten over it."
I send a grief journal in my Mother's memory, and enclose a letter similar to this. After the comfort of the funeral wears off, grieving is a lonely experience. One purpose of this letter is to help the reader feel less alone. The two books mentioned in the letter are shown below it.

B I L L   F R A N K 

October 7, 20—

Dear Allie,

I was saddened to hear about the death of your mother, Julianne. This is a difficult loss.

I'm no expert at grief, but I have suffered the loss of close relatives—especially a favorite aunt and uncle—both sets of grandparents,  my 18-year-old stepson, Alan (14 years ago), and my mother (2-1/2 years ago). Now, my 83-year-old father-in-law is declining, and we realize he won't live much longer.  So death is a part of life, and the best thing we can do is share it. That's why I'm writing to you.

I've enclosed a copy of "I Remember You: A Grief Journal," by Laynee Gilbert.  This book contains comforting thoughts, and a place to write, and in grieving my mother, I have enjoyed both the reading and the writing.  At first I didn't write much, but as time passed I've almost filled the journal.  I did not follow any particular order; I skipped around and wrote wherever there was an empty page.  It felt nice not to follow any rules.  In fact, I sometimes wrote upside down or sideways on the pages.  Even if you don't write in the journal, you may find the quotes helpful. 

One of the most comforting quotes to me was this one by William Shakespeare: "What wound ever did heal but by degrees?"

"Illuminata:  Thoughts, Prayers, Rites of Passage "
by Mirianne Williamson, Random House

This is a little prayer book I've found quite useful.  This prayer for Julianne is taken from pages 120 and 121.

Allie Segal
Page Two
    Dear God,
    Please take the soul and spirit of Julianne, this dear
          departed one, into the sweetest corner of
          Your mind, the most tender place in Your
          heart, that she, and I might be comforted.
    For now she has gone, and I pray, dear God,
          for the strength to remember she has not gone far.
    For she is with You and shall remain so forever.
    She remains within me, for we are all in You together.
    The cord that binds us one to the other cannot be cut,
          surely not by death.
    For You, dear God, have brought us together,
          and we remain in eternal connection.
    There is no power greater than You.
    Death is not Your master, nor mine,
    These things I believe and ask my heart to register.
    I surrender to You my grief.
    I surrender to You my pain.
    Please take care of Your servant, Julianne,
          my dear one who has passed.
    And please, dear Lord, take care of me.
The German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof let one remain silent."  Meaning that, some things can't be put into words, so don't try.  I am sorry about your loss, Allie, and I know words cannot repair it; but I do hope that these few thoughts will help you feel less alone.


With warmest wishes,


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William S. Frank, M.A.,
25 Reasons I love consulting.
by William S. Frank
  1. Brand. You are your own brand, and you can define it any way you want. For many years, I provided outplacement to the ex-employees of Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield service corporation. When departing employees left the company, they didn't request outplacement in their severance package. They said, "I want Bill Frank."
  2. Demand. The world will always be full of terrible problems that need solving.
  3. White Hat. I can be a helper and get paid for it.
  4. Pay. I can be paid to do things I'd gladly do for nothing.
  5. Variety. Every day is different.
  6. Happiness. At this stage of my career, I only work for people I respect and care about. If a client micromanages me or is otherwise no fun, I complete the assignment and replace them.
  7. Talent. I'm using 110% of my talents and stretching myself to the max.
  8. Change. I can change my focus any day I want. If you're a McDonald's franchisee, you don't say, "Hey, I've got this great idea for a meatball sandwich—let's try it out today." In consulting you can adjust your focus hour-by-hour, as long as your clients still understand and appreciate what you do.
  9. Income. No one else would pay me as much as I pay myself.
  10. FUN. I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing.
  11. Retirement. I can write and consult as long as I am physically and mentally capable. Peter Drucker worked into his 90s, and when asked which book was his best, he said: "My next one."
  12. Job Security. Although clients come and go, no one can come into my office and say, "Pack up your stuff . . . You don't work here anymore." In 29 years, I've only had one employer: ME.
  13. Travel. I don't have to travel unless I decide to. I travel if it's both FUN and profitable—or at least FUN.
  14. Commute. I live five minutes from my office, a corner office in an upscale six-story tower. In winter, I leave a heated garage at home and drive to an underground heated garage at work. There's seldom time to hear even one song on the radio.
  15. Vacation. Consulting is more fun than vacation (except on Wailea Beach in Maui).
  16. Friends. I have developed hundreds of close acquaintances and several lifetime friends.
  17. Time. I can work as much or as little as I like: four-hour days or 18-hour days. (Of course, my income will reflect that.)
  18. Employees. I can work with employees, subcontractors, partners, or alone—I've done it all.
  19. Passive Income. I've developed several products that provide "mailbox money." I earn while I'm sleeping.
  20. Ethics. I've never had to violate my values or personal code of ethics. I've never had to lie, purposely deceive or harm others, or promise things I can't deliver. I go to bed with a clear conscience. That doesn't mean there's never any conflict. But the conflict is conducted according to generally accepted business practices.
  21. Virtual. My career is fairly portable. With the Internet, e-mail, cell phone, and FedEx, I can work nationally, even internationally from my office—or anywhere in the world.
  22. Purpose. I make a difference in peoples' lives every day. I see it in their faces, hear it in their voices, and read it in their thank-yous.
  23. Experience. Every painful or joyful life experience makes me a better consultant. So does every person I meet or book I read. Grey hair can be good in consulting.
  24. Structure. I have to work very hard, and the clients expect superb results—but I get to structure my days, weeks, months, and years.
  25. Boss. Most of the time, I love my boss.
As I was posting these letters online, I realized I want to communicate my love for consulting. It's just a great business. The single letters, taken together, may create a picture of enjoyment, but in a burst of creativity I listed some of the reasons consulting is such a good fit for me—and perhaps for you, too. They are not prioritized; this is just how they came out.