Grace Noble is Senior Partner with local Solicitors Lee Chadwick. She was also a nurse. This unusual combination gives her valuable insights in her work, as she explains here. Grace is a member of the panel for “Speed dating with Death” on 5th November at the Festival–
When asked ‘what do you do?’ my first thought is ‘I am a Solicitor’ then the back of my head reminds me ‘I am a nurse’ (from a previous life), and then I think; well what do I do?
I deal with death. It sounds morbid, but in fact it isn’t, and I find my job an uplifting one. When I was a young student nurse, death frightened me, and I wasn’t sure how to react and indeed behave when with a recently deceased person. However, I just started chatting to them, and it got a lot easier! When someone is dying they look to the nurses very often for comfort, and I found it rewarding when I thought I had helped someone to have peace for their last few hours.
Now, I rarely see anyone when or after they have died, my role is to try and ensure that people are prepared to leave their loved ones knowing that everything is as much in order and as easy for them as possible. Then, of course, I interact in the lives of the bereaved.
We all deal with death in different ways, we all think about death before it happens, but when it touches us through the loss of a loved one, it is so final. I am surrounded by men in my life, a husband, four sons, a father and a brother, but there was always one woman in my life, the one who knew everything about me, my mother. Losing her was the first time that I had been bereaved of a very close relative, and it was a very sad experience. My father and brother asked me to deal with the administration of her estate myself, and her file, 6 years later is still sat in my file drawer, and I have a lovely photo of her looking down on my desk at work.
I learned to appreciate what it was really like to lose someone that you love, and I hope that this experience has made me a more understanding and empathetic lawyer.
Luckily for my family and I, my mother had both an Enduring Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs and a Will, so that when she first became ill (with a brain tumour), my family could deal with her finances, which made life easier for us in a very difficult time. Sadly, I see a lot of families who struggle in times of terminal illness and following death as their loved ones have not made Wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney. As I often say to my clients, these documents are probably not a great deal of use to them, but will make a whole lot of difference to the families or friends who are picking the pieces up in very stressful times.
Bereavement affects people in many different ways and my clients often have very different needs. I find that my approach changes depending on who I am dealing with and how they are coping. It often helps to lighten a meeting with some humour and sometimes all they need is a hug and a tissue. Grief is very personal and not something that people always find easy to share but talking can help greatly and I will always make time for my clients. I do my best to help everyone concerned and my greatest reward is being told that I have made things easier for someone.
I am looking forward to the Speed Dating with Death in Oxford on 05 November and meeting other contributors to see how we can assist more in difficult times.