The smoke haze is distressing, and we are only 20 kms from Melbourne CBD, nowhere near the fires, nowhere near the disaster areas. This haze is a mild annoyance to us, but it is enough for us to feel empathy for those who are really suffering. And increasingly as well as empathy, some guilt.

Guilt can be a strange emotion. Why do I feel guilt during this type of tragedy? I didn’t start any fires. I do my bit for the environment and will obviously make an effort to do more now. I didn’t deny climate change, I haven’t blamed anyone who should or shouldn’t have done things. I pay plenty of taxes, and regularly visit and spend money in rural areas.

I feel guilty because my life is going on pretty much as normal whilst others are dealing with unspeakable tragedy and distress. Of course I have donated money, and I have offered assistance in the form of accommodation to friends in the fire zones. But I am not personally suffering.

I see the headlines and read the stories, see the anger and frustration and hurt from those directly impacted and I feel guilty for trying to move on. It feels like the whole world should just stop for a bit. I silently cry for the animals. At least people have access to media and social media and know what is happening, the animals are being blindsided.

I want to help, but I also have to run my business to pay my bills. If I don’t get on with things, that won’t help anyone in the bushfire zones. And if I was not financially secure and in a stable position, I couldn’t have made a donation that might make a little bit of difference to someone who is in dire straits.

I can see the pain being felt by people who have lost everything. I imagine the trauma, disbelief, panic, and angst of those who have lost loved ones. And as a former financial planner, I was frequently one of the first people called when a loved one was lost suddenly. I was the one who made sure people had things set up correctly prior to an unexpected event, and I was able to give simple instructions to the person grieving, and most importantly reassurance that they would be ok.

You see, people who have their Estate Planning, Personal Insurance, Emergency Funds, and asset structuring set up correctly can better deal with what they need to at such a horrible time. What they need is some instant cash access, information on what has to happen, and the knowledge that the rest is fine and can wait whilst the person who has passed away is treated with respect, and the people remaining can grieve and try to cope with personal loss.

When everything is pre-planned for emergencies, the grief doesn’t go away. But the stress reduces, especially if the person who has died is the one who did all the finance stuff. And knowing there is a caring, competent back-up person for the financial changes to come is a huge relief. When someone passes away, people try to help. They give information on what they think is correct to try to help. Sometimes it does, many times it does not as the information is not relevant to the person in question or is hearsay or out of date.

I know this because I had to help many times, and the people I helped told me how much of a difference the factual, practical, empathetic assistance made to them.

People will need a lot of help. Once the emergency is over (please make it soon), the recovery will be slow, painful and for many without the comforts of their home and their paperwork to fall back on. Whether it is just dealing with insurance claims, sums of money being received via insurance payouts or compensation, decisions around whether to rebuild, move, start over somewhere safer, or in the horrible event of a new life starting without a loved one, people need to know who can help.

Imagine dealing with all of this stress without assistance?

Thank goodness for the charities, volunteers, donations of goods and services, and government assistance. People are stepping up and it is fabulous. But this process will be long and hard.
It is alright to let people know that they can have help with all this stuff. We are hearing that many financial advisers are already helping clients start to deal with the inevitable processes they will have to deal with to get paid out for insurance claims.

It is alright to let people know that if they don’t yet have an adviser they can still get one. They can set things up efficiently and correctly with the assistance they need.
It is alright to let people know that whilst the future can not be foreseen, many things can be planned for and the stress can be reduced.

It is alright to let people know that they don’t know what they don’t know. Only 10% of the population are currently utilising financial advice, so they are actually in the majority if they didn’t have things set up optimally the first time.

And for everyone who does get help with all of the financial stuff they need, safely and in the right way for them, they will be better able to help during these types of tragedies.

If you are financially secure, financially relaxed, and financially prepared, you can let that be less of a burden to your energy, so you can focus on what you need to in your life, whatever that might be.

Please consider financial relaxation as a priority in your life.

Melinda Houghton
Adv. Dip FS (FP)
Insider Out – Understand and Trust your Advice

This information may be regarded as general. That is, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. Accordingly, you should consider the appropriateness of any information we have given you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it.

I am no longer authorised to provide financial advice. If you wish to receive financial advice you must contact an authorised provider.

https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/investing/financial-advice/financial-advisers-register

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