What to Say to a Friend Who’s Lost a Loved One with Esther Pipoly

The loss of a loved one is devastating, to say the least.

The sad reality is that every year thousands of spouses are dying without a will- leaving their loved ones in grief, stuck and confused.

So how do you help someone in this situation?

In this episode, you’ll meet Loss of Life Advocates’ founder Esther Pipoly.

You’ll discover how to gracefully handle those delicate situations around death, including the age-old question “what to say to a friend who’s lost a family member”

Listen now!

Show Highlights Include:

  • The “quarterback” philosophy that helps you care for a grieving spouse, even if you have no idea what to say ([1:21])
  • Support a grieving widow by saying the 3 P’s ([11:52])
  • The “S-Word” you should never say to someone who’s just lost their loved one ([12:39])
  • How “feeling words” help your friends to grieve and process their loved one’s death sooner ([13:09])


What to Say to a Friend Who’s Lost a Loved One with Esther Pipoly



Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money?


Do you want a wealthy retirement without worrying about money? So welcome to the Retire In Texas Podcast, where you will discover how to enjoy your faith, your family, and your freedom in the state of Texas. And now here’s your host, financial advisor, author, and all-around good Texan, Darryl Lyons.


([00:29]): Welcome to retire in Texas. My name is Darryl Lyons. I’m the co-founder of PAX financial group in San Antonio and PAX financial group is the sponsor of this program. So visit PAX financial group.com. Before I get started, I need to make sure that you know about the dreaded legal disclosure. This material contains general information only, and it is not intended to provide specific investment tax or legal advice. Visit PAX financial group.com for more information, investment advisory services offered through ruak financial group, LLC. So I’m super excited to have Esther ply here from Lola loss of life advocates. So thank you for being here. We’re gonna dive into what you do and how you do it, but first of all, just thank you for being here.


([01:16]): Oh, thanks for having me. I’m excited. Yeah. So can you tell people what you do just right off the bat? Gosh, day’s different. So any given day, I am a grief consultant to families that are going through a life transition. So that can be a heart attack, stroke, a financial loss. It can be a divorce, but most people associate us with loss of life. So somebody’s been diagnosed going to pass away, families, reach out and say, what do we need to have organized paperwork? We’ve got houses that we need to get rid of. Inventory estate, sales, stuff like that. So we walk with families through that painful process and we provide a little grief consulting as far as I’m not a counselor, I’m not a lawyer. Like you just did your disclosure. Yeah. I’m not a CPA or a financial advisor, but I get them. I call myself a quarterback. I get them to the right people like


([02:02]): Yourself, loss of life advocates, Lola, Lola. So what is, how did you come up with the name? This my mom’s name. How, how did did that work out? Yeah, so I went to the branding company and ed Howie, Woohoo. He’s like one of the big shots here in San Antonio and we picked out a logo kind of design area and he said, okay, so what name do you want? And I said, I don’t, you know it started out with my beautiful lights. I thought that’s what people should call this, get prepared. It’s my beautiful life. And then he said, no, we gotta figure out an acronym or something. So I said, you know, my mom was the woman behind the man. She had her PhD, she taught at Austin, UT and Austin, but she was like the warrior in our family. Like, you know, you didn’t mess with my mom. She was just very tough. Never lied to you. Never misled you. And so I said, you know, my dad would call her Lola, her name is Dolores. And he said, oh, and then his branding person went loss of life advocates. And they grabbed everything that they could at that point. I had everybody in the room and it was like kind of a, a cool moment to have when you’re starting a company. But yeah. So it’s named after my mom.


([03:03]): That’s cool. And so it worked out well. And, and how did you decide to get into this? You kind of said grief business. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So how did you get into the grief business? So, 2014, I lost my dad and my husband 63 days apart, you know, and now that we’ve gone through COVID, you know, at the time it seemed like the worst thing in the world. And, and it certainly felt that way, that I’m, I’m certainly empathetic towards families have had multiple losses during these last couple of years. But at the time I lost my dad, I knew he was going to die. We had prepared everything. How old was he?


([03:34]): He was 81. Okay. So my dad was, I mean, he was economics professor for ACC to Alamo community college district here in San Antonio for 40 years, Xerox executive one career, his whole life, 35 years, founder of Haku, Hispanic association of colleges and universities sat on a lot of national boards. And then towards the end of his life, he was the state president for a, a R P for the state of Texas. No kidding. And he was in charge of the driver safety program as well. And if you drove with him, you would understand that that was, I don’t think they knew what they were talking like, who they were talking to. Cause he was a crazy driver, but my dad was amazing. And so my dad passes away and we knew that was coming him and I had every conversation. We put everything together. I knew where everything was. I was a durable power of attorney. And then as soon as he passed away, I was his executor and our power of attorney is what? Yeah.


([04:21]): That’s the person that is left in charge with financial information, like making financial decisions, medical decisions, property dis any decision for you, if you’re incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself. Yeah. Okay. So we might go back to that if we have time. Yeah. So my dad was an economics professor, so he was Mr. Like, it’s gonna cost a, a thousand dollars the last year of my life. But he had met me, introduced me to all of his partners. So his wealth manager, his CPA, his attorney, you know, I knew everybody. So when he got sick and he couldn’t really speak for himself, I was the person that had to make that hard decision to put him in hospice and let him transition. And we knew that was coming. And all I remember him saying was, please make me comfortable. I don’t wanna feel it. Right. Yeah. That’s what people are most scared of is how it’s gonna feel when they die. And so then we’re going to bury my dad and we’re going to the cemetery. And my husband says, I don’t feel good. And I looked at him and I kind of swung my head around and said, wow, you’re painfully then. And he said, well, you know, you’re not here. I I’d moved to Colorado. We started to transition. My husband was 20 years older than, so we thought, where do we wanna go? Our daughter had graduated from Denver university and he said, well, I’m gonna go sell around the world for a year. He was 65. And I said, okay, well, I’m gonna move to Denver. And then we’ll sell the house, close the business and we’ll end up in Colorado.


([05:35]): So you were gonna retire in Colorado. Yeah. So I don’t have that podcast. This is a retire in Texas podcast podcast. Yeah. We were gonna retire and, well, he was gonna retire. I was the retirement plan cuz my husband was not a planner. He was an attorney. He was an attorney. So attorneys never plan. They just spend the money as fast as they can. We have a lot of attorney clients. So yeah. I can attest, You know, the challenge. Yeah. So yeah, so he, we had this kind of idea and my husband was like, I don’t feel good. And he went back to Colorado with me after my dad’s funeral. And two weeks to the day that my dad died, my husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer, prostate bladder, liver bone. And it was a real eye awakener it was like just, oh my gosh, where is everything? And he paid all the bills. I mean, he did everything. He was my hero. He drove a Porsche, we went on great vacations. I had a wonderful lifestyle, but I realized in that moment that I knew nothing about anything and we didn’t have any joint accounts. So when he passed away, there was no retirement money. There was no plan. As a matter of fact, I had paid to close his accounts. Mm. He had partners that were working with that were not partners in business. They were shared office partners and they were going in and taking clients from him while he was passing away. And I just made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. And so without us having the conversation of do we have a nest egg, I was 46. So there was no widow benefit for social security. Yeah. There was no retirement fund that he had saved or a nest egg, any life insurance.


([07:01]): He had life insurance. And that was disputed because he had taken out the policy within two years of passing away. Okay. So the life insurance company said, thank you very much, but you know, here’s your premium back? So the life insurance, he thought he was leaving me when he was dying. It took me 840 days to fight for that. And I had attorneys in San Antonio, but I went through a complete life change at 46. I was a single woman, two children that were adults. But doesn’t matter when your parents die, you become a child again. So trying to get all of us together and really restart my life. And so I went through all that and my background was an employee benefits. And so I was already an account manager relationship manager for were clients all over the country that were self-funded. And I worked with a great insurance agency in downtown Denver.


([07:44]): So I knew how to take care of people. But when it came time for me going through my loss, when HR said, well, you have this benefit and that benefit and this benefit there, I really didn’t need the benefits as much as I needed the person to walk me through. And then after my husband died, all the, oh, here’s a checklist. And I really loved when I first started Lola, all the objections I would get from financial advisors and wealth managers, oh, we’ve got this book and this portfolio and these checklist, and I’m like, what you need is a person to go with that checklist because you know, are you gonna go and help clean out the office and make sure the widow’s not making painful mistake? Do you do some of that? Do you actually go and clean out, out some of the drawers? And


([08:21]): I walk cemeteries, I witness bodies with widows. You witness bodies with widows. Yeah. Oh my gosh. It’s the, the stuff that when somebody dies, you know, you have this moment, maybe, especially if you have children, you don’t wanna take them in to go witness your husband’s body. And so I’ve had clients that have called me and said, would you go with me? And just, and it’s kind of a weird walk, but you walk in and I’m like, I’ve also picked up cremated remains for widows. Oh my goodness. Kind of a crazy story. And so how many people do you serve in a given month? You know, it varies like sometimes I have people that come in, I’ll have a busy month of 10 or 15 families. Other months I’ll have just maybe two or three. And then I have clients that hire me on a monthly basis to hire me as a consultant, to work with them for a year. You know? So I’ll have be working with them five hours a week and helping ’em get through selling homes, liquidating. It gives the nuclear family, somebody that they can send to take care of dad and make sure that they’re checking in and making the mindset is clear, you know, helping them push through on some of the decisions that they don’t wanna make. So having, I have call ’em elephant in the room conversation. I really little baby elephants that I carry with me. You


([09:33]): Have one now I don’t, I didn’t bring one. I’m gonna send on you. But these little baby elephants, I put ’em out on the table and I say, okay, we need to talk about the elephant. Oh, that’s great. Yeah. So I want to pause and I want to tease some of the conversation out, but for those that may have just tuned in, you’re listening to retire in Texas sponsored by PAC’s financial group. And you can go to the PAC’s financial group, web website and grab the ebook. It’s actually really popular ebook. It’s the retiring Texas ebook. It’s free. It’s a gift. It’s a way for you to become acclimated to our packs community. And speaking of community, loss of life advocates, founder, Esther ply is here with us and I am enjoying the dialogue. And I don’t even know if we have this go up of time to cover all the areas that I are in my head. But if I summarize some of the things that we talked about, you lost your father and then four weeks later,


([10:29]): Almost five, you lost your husband from cancer, right? And at that point you had some, you were acclimated to the benefits world through your professional career. But if I’m hearing you correctly, you realize that there was a gap that widows predominantly thinking of widows. But I know it’s not exclusive to widows. There’s a gap between information and really somebody who can walk alongside and provide judgment and empathy. Right. Is that right? Right. And then that’s where you founded Lola. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I basically took my own personal experience. So we work with families individually. We work with business owners based off of my husband’s lack of preparation, all the mistakes I made. So I walk with business owners through getting prepared. And then also with business owners, when a husband passes away and the wife has inherited the business or the partnership, so help them navigate that. And then also work with corporations and they send me their employees from HR that they don’t really wanna access them into EAP employee assistance plans, or want to access them into a mental health benefit. But they’re like, we don’t know how to have this conversation. Can you have it? So they will send ’em to me. And I’ll work with the employees and then circle back,


([11:41]): You know, working with the employees is valuable in this one simple, confusing question that I have for you. Simple. Yeah. Confusing question. When somebody passes away of family or friend and you talk to that, somebody, what do you say? I mean, like if I had a friend who lost his mom and I said, you know, I’m sorry, my condolences, I mean, what do you do? What do you say? How much do you say right. What’s the right thing to do. I mean, it’s mean everyone’s, heart’s the right place. And usually, but I, is there wrong things to say, is there, are there right things to say, well, the right thing is to put a word behind it. So I’m sad to hear that your mother passed away. I know she had a great life. If she was older, I’m confused. If it’s a sudden death, you know, I’m confused and hurt for you. I dunno how to help. Can you tell me how to help you? Do you need anything pets? I do the, the pets, plants and pipes, you know, you water your plants. Can I walk your pets? Can I go out and cover your pipes? You know, some things like that. Yeah. But yeah, no, I mean, there are definitely wrong things to say the sorry word, you know, it’s a knee jerk reaction. We all say it, but really sorry is when you do something to somebody else, you know, I stepped on your toe. Ooh, sorry. That’s a sorry. Accidentally hit your car.


([12:50]): That’s a sorry. Yeah. When you don’t know the person, the sorry word is kind of like, I use it, compare it to Chick-fil-A my pleasure. You know, when you, thank you. My pleasure, you know? Yeah. It’s kind of like the HEB person checking out, you know, thanks for coming to HEB. It’s just a roll off the tongue. So it’s really easy. So you almost have to retrain yourself. So when you’re calling somebody always putting the words around it, that are what you’re feeling. I’m, I’m so confused. I’m so hurt. I’m so sad. Mm. I’m sick for you because I know this has to be difficult and, and people understand that more because that’s actually how they’re feeling at that time. You know, a lot of people listening are in that age group that they’re considering transitioning into retirement or pivoting into the next chapter of their lives. And they are planning in a lot of different ways. One of the areas that they plan through financial advisors is to make sure that the spouse is taken care of. And a lot of times good financial advisors can run the numbers, right. That’s not a difficult job. And even make sure that the buckets of money are filled, but what else is missing that plan?


([13:56]): Oh, the difficult conversation. Right? So you’re married. I was married. I had a blended family. You know, my husband had two children from a first marriage. We had two children from our marriage. So it was the, the blended family conversations. So when people are retiring, sitting, your kids down holidays is a great time to sit ’em to on and say, look, this is gonna be a 30 minute conversation. I promise we won’t dwell on it. But if something happens to me, this is what I want. I’m gonna be retiring. So those simple conversations they’re hard to have. And if a kid gets up and walks out, then they walk out. But it saves the wife from the painful guilt that they feel. If there’s a blended family where the children are like, Hey, my mom died. And we want my dad to be buried where my mom was buried. Mm. And so I’ve had a lot of widows call me saying, how do I navigate this? So yeah. You know, that’s something, I always tell them, having the conversation.


([14:46]): Yeah. So making sure as you’re, we’re doing all the retirement planning and thinking about transitioning into next chapter, or that maybe that’s already been done as we age, having those difficult conversations, blended families definite important. But I even think about those that are not blended families, maybe even discussing something that we referenced earlier, the durable power of attorney and who’s response for that. Usually it’s the spouses, but then there’s contingencies in there. Right. So do you often emphasize the adoption of durable power of attorneys when you’re talking with families,



I emphasize just having your legal documents drawn up, you know, and people always say, well, I’m gonna do it. And I will tell you that in the last 19 months, I I’ve worked with more families that have had no will in place. And their loved one dies just recent with every COVID and everything going on. COVID. Cuz people went in and they didn’t have a durable power in place. They’ve so nobody to help them, you know, manage the financials, medical power of attorney. You’re not, you know, and the spouses where they come, where it gets little crazy is the spouses sometimes will have the medical power of attorney me automatically through the hospital. Cuz they’ll have the paperwork set up and they’ll recognize that. But there was a period of time during COVID where the medical power of attorney didn’t really apply because doctors were having to make decisions on ventilators. Oh yeah. So just something like that, but yeah. I always tell people, have your wills in place, have your documents done? The durable power of is certainly very important. Even if you’re sick, something happens to you. If you’re going to have surgery, who’s in charge of making those financial decisions for you.


([16:18]): So there’s again, a lot of different things to talk about in a short period of time. But in summary, it’s kind of strange to say, but you’re in the business of walking alongside people during a very difficult time and you can’t save everyone. Right. So you’ve created kind of a team approach. You have other Lola certified professionals. Yeah. What does that look like now? So when I first started this, I thought I’d just be an independent consultant, do my own thing. Yeah. Then people started finding out what I did and they said, oh, how do I do that? So we created a certification plan. Okay. So I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna to be careful with this cause I don’t, I never wanted to manage people. That’s probably the best way. And I’m sure you can understand this. So I thought, how do I help people do what I do? And then take the business model and grow Lola outside of San Antonio, outside of, into Houston, into new Orleans. And so we started the certification process and we have 15 people in Texas. That’s wonderful. And growing, you know, through that just certification process where they learn everything that we do, we’ve certainly put our notebooks together and our forms and our program. So it’s, we have a variation of advisors that work with us.


([17:26]): It’s great to watch the growth. It really has been exciting as we close this out. I just want to remind everyone we’re here with the founder of loss of life advocates, Esther ply. So thank you again for being with us. I always like to ask one question before and we tie ball on this one. Probably the most important question. What is your favorite kind of salsa? Oh gosh. Salsa. I would have to say it’s Julio’s yeah. Like the chips. They have their own salsa. Do they really? It’s in the refrigerator section at HEB. So you have to get the, you know what I’ve had. I’m so sorry. My wife’s gonna listen to this and go, you’re an idiot. We have that all the time and it’s true. I like it. I actually prefer the mild version over the hot version really well. You can’t really eat too much of the hot version that’s right. Yeah. And I’m addicted to chips and


([18:10]): Salsa. Yeah. That’s the thing in Texas. You just, you leave here and you wanna get back. That’s right. As best as you can. Thank you so much for being here. This has been a blessing to those that are listening in Texas and outside of Texas. So thanks everyone for listening. Again. I want to encourage you to get that retire in Texas ebook on our website, there’s also a link to schedule a 15 minute consult with one of the advisors at packs. They have a heart of a teacher. I don’t find it to be a threatening experience, but you may want to know more about what we’re doing and you can do it right there on the website. And until then, remember that you think differently when you think long term have a great day.


([18:50]): This is the podcast factory.com.

Retire In Texas eBook

Ready to have a real conversation about securing your future?

Schedule a free no-strings-attached phone conversation.