Susan Alpert’s company, Susan Alpert Consulting, seeks to make the unbearable a little more bearable. “I started my company because people have a great need for assistance after they have lost their partner or their aging parents. Most of us aren’t prepared for the paperwork and formalities that come with the loss of a loved one. You can have accountants or attorneys but you are mostly responsible for dealing with the change—and the worst part is that you don’t know what you are expected to know.” Susan’s expertise in her business comes from her own painful experience, the death of her husband. “As an entrepreneur and head of a company, I thought I was very well-versed in business matters. But when my husband died, I found out I had no idea what to do; what needed to be filed, what to do first. It was an incredibly overwhelming period, and I realized that everyone needs help at these periods in life but they don’t know what they need.”
As Susan experienced, the grieving period is a bewildering and complicated time. “I’ve discovered in my line of work that one of the first things people very naturally worry about after the loss of a loved one is how their lifestyle will change. Regardless of what you have, you really can’t know how this loss will impact your life. You are going through a terrible grief period and you don’t know what’s going to happen to you.”
In a world where it seems like everyone is competing for your time and money, how can you know where to turn after such a devastating loss? You want to find someone who can guide you through this major life change without taking advantage of the precarious financial and emotional situation you are in—someone like Susan. Susan wanted to get her services out to people, without bewildering them in their most vulnerable time. So Susan decided to write a book.
“I knew there had to be a way that I could reach a lot of people; I had done television and radio but I really wanted to express that I had been through the same things, I had been in that same position.” Her book, Driving Solo: Dealing with Grief and the Business of Financial Survival, gives Susan the chance to communicate with people in a more effective way, to let them know that she has been there. “I know what it is like to be married to the love of your life for 46 years and then have to go through the pain of caregiving—on both sides of the experience. My book allows me to tell my story in a way that others grieving can relate to.” In dealing with aging and death, the personal side of Susan Alpert Consulting is just as important as the business side, and a book gives Susan the forum to balance these two sides of grieving. After sharing her own experiences and the life-altering decisions she had to make in the book, she can build that relationship of trust that is so necessary to guiding others through their bereavement. Susan’s book is designed to reflect that—after leading in with her own story, she transitions to the instructive portion of the book with forms, a timely charting course, and business explanations.
And finally, a book also allows Susan to broadcast her most important message—especially to those people who may not be able to afford her services, but can afford her book. What is this message? “You can brush yourself off, get back up and start moving and living. Though this is the most difficult time, there is life beyond the loss, and you are the author. There are more chapters in your book to write.” Take Susan—before her loss, she never expected to be an author. The worst tragedy she could ever experience, the loss of her husband, has resulted in new life: a book that gives Susan the chance to help others in their hardest moments.