The following is an article from the December 2018 issue of "Get Your Ducks in a Row" Carolina Family Estate Planning's free newsletter. You can read the rest of the issue, as well as back issues of our newsletter online at or subscribe for free at

As I sat down to write this year in review, I found myself faced with a bit of an internal debate: should I stick to the cheery stuff and omit the challenges we’ve faced this year? Or should I be authentic, raw, and vulnerable with you, our clients and friends? 

As the new year approaches and I reflect on the past year, the intense gratitude I feel for all the amazing achievements and blessings we have experienced is tinged with some grief and remorse. 

We have accomplished incredible goals in 2018: we have had the opportunity to learn from attorneys, business owners, and other mentors; our talented, capable team has been lauded with awards and recognition; we’ve helped hundreds of new clients; we’ve moved into a beautiful new space; and we finished the year with a multi-thousand dollar donation of toys for the holidays. 

But it hasn’t all gone the way we wanted it to. We have learned that the team you start with isn’t necessarily the team you end up with, between retirement, turnover, and maternity leave (even though Amanda still works with us from home when she can!). We have had to break down and rebuild many of our policies, systems, and procedures. And we have had to say goodbye to several of our beloved clients and friends who passed away this year. 

In the celebration of the year’s end, there is the danger that the twinkling lights of the season will dazzle us, and we’ll float past the pain we should be permitted to feel. A surprising aspect of grief is that allowing yourself to feel and process your emotions can actually help you emerge into renewed hope. Denial and distraction can prolong the sense of disconnect. 

I find myself wishing sometimes I had just pushed “pause” when things were perfect the way they were and spent more time enjoying the lushness of life. The truth is, it was never perfect. The truth is, we rarely take the time we should to appreciate where and who we are, even though it all can’t be perfect. 

We are reminded this time of year that the best stories always mingle joy with grief. The story of Jesus' birth and the Hanukkah event are stories that highlight divine light and provision in the midst of darkness and hopelessness. It's not accidental that hardships set the stage for new life, that abundance stems from pruning. And so, in this season, I invite you to join me in honest, humble and deepened hope and expectation as we head into the new year. Happy Holidays! 

Dan Bedard
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