Former Sherwood chamber chief pursues new business
It didn't take long for the former executive director of the Sherwood Area Chamber of Commerce to find a new niche in the community.
Corey Kearsley, along with his wife, Katie Gurney, have started a new business, a business focused on helping fellow residents of Sherwood deal with life's hardest moment: the death of a family member.
It's called Prepare Your Affairs. Kearsley and Gurney help family members adjust to the reality of death. Through workshops and individual sessions, Kearsley and Gurney will guide a family though decisions that have to be made following the death of a loved one.
"We came to realize it didn't seem there were a lot of a services out there that tried to really take a holistic approach to being ready for that time when it comes for your family," Kearsley said. "That sort of became the start of this idea."
Kearsley and Gurney have personal backgrounds that have prepared them for the services they offer.
Both Kearsley and Gurney lost spouses to cancer, and with the help of support groups, the two are able to offer support to family members going through the stress and uncertainty of how to make preparations after a loved one has died.
Describing Prepare Your Affairs, Gurney said, "We have done all the research and the homework so that you don't have to do all of that. We're trying to help the survivors be ready for what's coming up."
Gurney described four pillars of preparation as financial, legal, mental (emotional-physical-spiritual) and practical.
"When that other person who does all those other things is gone, you have to do it or at least figure out who do I pass it off to," Gurney said. "Most people are just so blindsided by the other stuff, so we just want to make sure that people are aware of all the things you can plan for, so that you can grieve easily."
Prepare Your Affairs can counsel families who experience a sudden death in the family, or perhaps a death that occurs after an illness.
"In an ideal world, we want to get to people before anything happens," Kearsley said. "We want to get them while they're healthy and well and there's no plans of anybody dying anytime soon."
Kearsley and Gurney realize that when a death occurs, it can be hard for a family members to focus on the essentials.
"By the time my husband died, I was just a zombie," Gurney said. "You don't even know what day it is. Suddenly, you've got to make all these really important legal and financial decisions."
Gurney continued, "It's really crucial to have this information planned out beforehand, know where to find it, know where to go and have your family know what the plans were … it's really crucial that these decisions are made when everybody's clearheaded."
Kearsley and his wife warn of scam artists who can take advantage of vulnerable survivors.
"Scam artists are out like crazy," he said, noting these scammers read the obituaries and prey on survivors.
"They'll 'help' you with your investments," Gurney cautioned.
Making funeral arrangements can be stressful for surviving family members.
Prepare Your Affairs can help families decide their funeral plans. Funerals are part of the practical aspect their business offers.
"You're talking tens of thousands for certain places," Kearsley said of cemetery plots. "It's real estate. People need to plan for that. Those who don't think about those things get major sticker shock when suddenly somebody in the family has a heart attack, an accident, whatever it is."
Kearsley said Prepare Your Affairs offers workshops and individual consultations.
"Eventually, at some point, we'll do some online courses, podcasting and those kinds of things, but one step at a time," Kearsley said.
Gurney added, "At the end of the day, I feel like we are providing survivors with the ability to move forward in a healthy, meaningful way. Recognizing that this is going to happen, I think it's so crucial for us to be able to acknowledge it and be OK with it."
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