Make Difficult Decisions in Times of Peace, not Tragedy


Making difficult decisions that affect your family is challenging. When those decisions are about money, the stress could be even greater. Adding a significant amount of emotion to the process of decision making hinders your ability to think clearly and objectively about the consequences, benefits, drawbacks, and opportunities that accompany each choice.

There are factors that influence a person’s ability to make good decisions. Being well rested, having just eaten, and remaining analytical instead of emotional are all important to critical thinking. However, one of the biggest factors is the amount of serotonin in your brain. Researchers say that it’s best to make decisions in the morning, while serotonin levels are at their highest. As the day goes on, we often feel indecisive, or unwilling to make difficult decisions. This is in part why stereotypical 2:00am coffee-induced studying sessions are not effective when it comes to learning new material.

When a loved one dies, our lives are thrown out of balance and our body and mind scramble to cope with the loss. During times of tragedy and sadness, it’s more likely for people to be emotional than analytical, to be tired instead of well-rested, and to generally not be at their best when it comes to their physical and mental health. When people experience grief, their serotonin falls below the typical levels in their brain, rendering them less capable of quick, thoughtful decision making. When we experience loss, many of the faculties that are required to make difficult decisions are hindered.

Imagine that you are back in school and have a big exam coming up, but a tragedy occurs the day before the test. If you are caught up with all the reading required for the class, and have studied the material thoroughly before the tragedy, while the circumstances aren’t ideal, you’d likely be able to navigate your way through the exam because you prepared prior to your loss. However, if you hadn’t studied and were completely unprepared for the exam, and then a tragedy occurred, it would be extremely unlikely that you’d be able to put aside your grief to study and learn all the new material to receive a passing grade.

Wiley Etter, LLC supports clients in making difficult decisions, not just during times of tragedy and loss, but well before that. We provide clients the chance to check a difficult item off the list of situations that must be taken care of after a death in the family. We can provide stability and a plan moving forward during a time of disarray. We encourage our clients to not wait until they’re sad and distracted to make difficult financial decisions, but rather to consider all available options while they’re healthy and clear-headed.