Telling Clients a Loved One Died From the Virus

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

I recently lost my mom to COVID-19. She was not in a nursing home. She was quite healthy and going out every single day up until this all happened. We have no idea where she contracted it and many times over the weeks it seemed as though she would recover but ultimately she lost the battle. A number of my clients knew what was going on. I had some quarterly meetings scheduled. We are doing a few webinars from the office and my clients have been attending. I was slow to respond to a few clients to let them know what was happening. We have a great team and clients were not abandoned and all questions or concerns were addressed.

Should I send out an announcement about my mom’s passing to my email list of clients?

Or should I let clients know as I talk with them on other matters? Should I not even address it unless a client asks me?

I don’t want to put anyone in the uncomfortable situation of having to comfort. But I don’t want to get into lengthy conversations with clients about what happened and how I am doing. I am fine to be working. It is good for my emotional state to have something to focus on.

Is there a proper protocol? I’m not the only advisor wrestling with this or something similar.


Dear B.T.,

I offer you my most sincere condolences. Is there ever a “proper protocol” when someone is dealing with something as difficult and significant as losing a parent? I understand your point about these times we are in and, yes, things that might have seemed more obvious or normal in the past are much more confusing these days. However, the answer to your question will have a similar vein, no matter what else is happening.