Wellthy recently announced its latest offering for members, focused on supporting families navigating the complexities, challenges, and grieving process surrounding end of life and loss.
Based on years of experience from our expert Care Team, our “End of Life and Loss” work aims to provide families with compassionate support and solutions during one of the most difficult and complex moments in life. It also follows Wellthy’s recent acquisition of Lantern, an end of life planning company that became part of Wellthy in Spring 2023.
Many across our Care Team bring lived experience with end of life and loss to the work they do to support families. That includes team members like Courtney Graham, a Care Coordinator at Wellthy who recently experienced the loss of her mother and grandmother.
In this brief interview, we asked Courtney about the deeply human experience of navigating the loss of a loved one, how Wellthy and Lantern can support families during these challenging times, and why it’s so important to think about planning for the end of life.
Experiencing the loss of a loved one, or accompanying a loved one as they approach the end of their life, can be one of the most human — yet also one of the most hard and challenging — experiences we face. This is a situation you’ve recently experienced, and wondered if you would share a little of your story and journey over the past year?
My mother had been battling lung cancer for quite awhile but had kept me in the dark about most of what was happening — which was easy to do through COVID. She and my grandmother (both retired nurses) had been caring for each other. In 2022 I found out just how bad things were when my mother was hospitalized. Within two months, she was moved to hospice and passed. Less than a year later, my grandmother had a sudden turn for the worse and was moved to the same hospice where I last saw my mother; passing away days later.
Wellthy recently acquired the startup Lantern, an end of life planning company that has worked with many individuals and families to help them not only plan for end of life and loss, but to navigate the administrative and logistical challenges (not to mention the grieving process!) faced after someone passes away. How did you use Lantern, and what did you find most helpful?
When my mom passed, nothing was in place. She was a single mother and I’m her only child so most of the responsibilities fell to me. She said there was a will but was too weak to say where it was — and things had no order to say the least. I didn’t know where to start, so I Googled and found my way to Lantern. They had tons of articles on what you are or aren’t responsible for, mistakes to avoid, documents you may need, and a lot more. What was really helpful was the interactive checklists, breaking things down week by week so I didn’t feel as overwhelmed.
Thinking about the end of life for a loved one, or the reality of losing a loved one, is something that many families put off — and for obvious reasons. But that can bring its own set of challenges, especially since there are so many emotional, administrative, logistical, and financial aspects of saying goodbye to a loved one. Do you have any advice for families who may be reticent to plan ahead or discuss matters around end of life and loss?
This was how things were in my case and it’s made me such an advocate for opening this conversation and at the very least, creating a will and letting someone know where it is. Without a will, nothing can be done without going through courts and navigating all sorts of legal paperwork. Even with probate being uncontested, it took close to a year before I was legally able to handle some of her affairs and prolonged my grief.
Grieving can take so many different shapes and forms for families after saying goodbye to a loved one. Are there insights or advice you can share about what the grieving process looked like (and/or still looks like) for you, and what families might be able to expect after saying goodbye to someone they love?
Honestly, this is one I’m still working on. It’s a process. The best advice I could give is to have those moments. Sadness, sorrow, and even anger are all normal. Allow yourself to acknowledge these emotions, don’t let them build up because they will come out.
Has there been a story around end of life and loss that has moved you at Wellthy, or taught you something new about our shared humanity?
One experience that comes to mind was a message I received from a daughter who we helped find a facility locally for her mother. Ultimately her mother moved in with her for hospice care. When her mother did pass, she thanked me because she was able to spend some of those last moments with her mother and not worry about the details. I was so glad to have been able to do that for them and help manage some logistics after her passing.
We recently commemorated National Grief Awareness Day — which is an important moment to help open up conversations about end of life and loss, and to help break the stigma many feel about discussing the hurt, hardship, and challenges of saying goodbye. What do you think employers, health providers, or other societal systems can do to help better support families navigating end of life situations?
I think an understanding of just how much it takes to navigate loss; and not just emotionally, but physically as well. Your sleep patterns, appetite, and energy are all affected; which only makes running around and handling all the details harder. There are also tons of costs and responsibilities like legal fees, taking on mortgage/power/insurance payments, etc. that are likely all weighing on you during these times.
You can learn more about Wellthy's latest service offering on "End of Life and Loss" by clicking here.