As Ed Shockley nears retirement after almost 25 years as the principal of Legacy Wealth Management, a financial services firm, he reflects on what he wants to do next. Not content with easing into retirement by sitting, reading or watching TV, he has done some soul-searching as to "what's next."
When asked what that means, he replies: "Within my family, I have always been the one who has been with my parents, grandparents and even my daughter as they were preparing for their deaths. Also, within this business, I have become very aware of the changes in how families deal with the final days of their family elders. One hundred years ago, if grandma or grandpa was dying, they were upstairs in a bedroom of the family home with everyone around. Today, they're in convalescent homes three counties, three states or even three countries away, very alone and by themselves. I find this to be a huge disservice to them at a time when they need someone to have a sense of caring and respect for them."
Ed's road to registering for the Professional Program in the Study of Loss and Grief is in line with his life and business experiences. He has worked as a volunteer chaplain at a local hospital, with faith-based charities and has coped with the loss of his own disabled daughter. Each of these moments has given him the feeling that someone is telling him the path he should be taking.
"It is something I have always felt instinctively: the need for someone to be able to help others in this way," he says. "I'm also looking to be able to develop the grace in myself so that when helping people who are experiencing grief and loss, I'll have something inside me to give to them."
His uncle was a Trappist/Benedictine monk for more than 62 years and had a favorite saying: "Divine serendipity." According to Ed, this phrase stood for all the marvelous things that come to us simply out of the blue. So while taking classes to build his foundational knowledge, Ed has already encountered several potential opportunities of which he had not been aware through conversations with his classmates and instructors. When he hears of something different that could apply to him, Ed simply says, "Divine serendipity."
He is completely committed to getting the most out of this program. Case in point: "My wife and I stayed for a whole month at Lake Tahoe, and during that time there were three one-day classes I wanted to take. I drove down for each class and then drove back up. On the way back, I would get to about Auburn and have to stop to get an IV of coffee! It's just part of the joy of being involved in something I have felt for such a long time."
With only a few classes left before completing the program, Ed is unsure exactly where this experience will take him next. "It's interesting to hear all the different things my classmates are doing," he says. "I find it exciting to see what's available and wonder just where I might fit in. I like the idea that this is not just some nebulous thing 'to work in loss and grief' but it is something that offers me a viable and rewarding future."