Category Archives: Brian’s Blog

AACC with Gary Webb and Norm Wright

Brian, Gary, and Norm at AACC

I recently had the privilege to meet and have breakfast with H. Norman Wright and Gary Webb. Norm is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist and his current focus is in grief counseling, trauma counseling and critical incident debriefings. Norm is the author of some 70 plus books and other media resources. Norm is also a frequent speaker on the topic of grief care. Gary is the CEO of Christian Counseling Professionals of New Mexico. Gary leads a team of 25 professionals based in Albuquerque that include a wide range of counseling services including grief and loss.

It’s always interesting the first time you meet an individual, especially meeting them over a meal, you don’t know what to expect. But with both Norm and Gary, you immediately know that they enjoy helping others and there’s a genuine warmth to both of them. It’s easy to see why both men are well respected and have helped thousands of individuals and families. They are trustworthy, good listeners, well respected by their peers and clients, and they are men of faith. If you’re looking for a grief counselor and some excellent grief care resources, you need to check out their websites: – H. Norman Wright – Gary Webb, Christian Counseling Professionals of New Mexico – Grief Care Resources at Shared Sorrows

Norm and Gary were gracious enough to pose in this picture with me.

Brian Beaman


Grandma’s House – A Life Story

My grandmother will turn 95 next month. We don’t know how much longer we have to enjoy her company. Her health, especially mentally, is deteriorating at a sobering pace. When you visit her at the nursing home, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get. That’s depressing because that’s not how I remember grandma. Like most strong and determined women from her generation, the nursing home has never been home. She has always wanted to go to her house, that was home.

Grandpa and grandma moved into their house in 1976 when they retired from the farm. It is a small house and structurally nothing special. And it’s not new and it wasn’t new in 1976. It was, however, grandma’s house and we loved it! The living room was the ‘original house’ before the additions were built. But the ‘original house’ wasn’t built for a family, it was built as a school house. A one-room schoolhouse, in the country, on the plains of eastern Colorado. A school house grandma attended as a child.

Grandma lived in a school house, her school house. I find that interesting. My kids can’t imagine moving into their school when they retire, let alone imagine ‘retiring’.

There’s more to the story of this particular school house then the love and warmth that our family knew. It was home to a tragedy, The Towner Bus Tragedy. In late March of 1931 a surprise blizzard stranded some 23 kids and a bus driver on their way home from school. Five of the kids froze to death as did the bus driver, Carl Miller, when he tried to walk for help in the blizzard. Grandma wasn’t at school or on the bus that day and I don’t know why. I’d like to know. Grandma has talked about that day, but I’ve failed to capture the details. It’s part of her life story.

Now is the time to ask your parents, your grandparents, and if you’re lucky, your greatgrandparents their life stories. Write the stories down or capture them on video. Most of us carry a video camera with us everyday, our smart phones. I pray for the chance to document my grandma’s life story before it’s too late. Here are just a few of the many questions I’d like to ask her.
• Tell me about the day of the Towner bus tragedy?
• When and where did you meet grandpa?
• What was my dad like as a child?
• What was your experience during the Great depression, the dust bowl, World War II?
• What are you favorites memories as a child?
• How do you want to be remembered?
• What is one funny story from your youth that still makes you smile?
• Who were the most influential people in your life?
• I want to know more about your dad, my great-grandfather, who immigrated to the United States from Germany through the port in Corpus Christi, TX.
• Can I have your homemade noodle recipe? (She made the best chicken and
noodles and she served it over mashed potatoes. A family favorite! Can you say starch?)

-Brian Beaman


Heaven, but not Now

Wills, Estate Plans and Legacies

“Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to go now.” The line from the Kenny Chesney song is all too true. And nobody wants to plan for their death either. We don’t like to talk about death (or money, or sex, or religion). But planning for the unexpected (crazy to say unexpected as we’re all going to die) should be viewed as a gift to the family and friends that you’re leaving behind. If you want to leave your family with a mess – stress, arguments, sadness – then don’t leave them any instructions, just let them duke it out. Yes, planning for death freaks some people out, I get it. Not crazy about it either, but I do love my family and I want to make sure they are taken care and know my wishes. Let’s talk about a wills, trusts, probate, and power of attorney and what they are and what they do.
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How to Pay for a Funeral

If you’re dealing with the loss of loved one right now, you’re hurting and it’s a difficult situation. If you’re trying to figure out how to pay for the funeral too, it’s creating additional stress. Let’s take a few minutes and talk about some options for paying for a funeral including:

  • How Much?
  • Cash
  • Credit Cards / Loans
  • Mortgage
  • Fund Raisers / CareFund™
  • Family Members
  • Church / Employer

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Planning to Pay for a Funeral

The Basics

Most of us don’t like to think about funerals, and certainly not paying for them. But having a plan is good idea. So let’s talk about some options.

Cash – Save up and pay for it.
Having cash to pay for emergencies is always is a good idea. Most financial planners recommend having 3 to 6 months of expenses saved for emergencies. For most people, that fully funded emergency fund would pay for a funeral. It would also allow you to get on a airplane to go be with family during a time of loss. To get your emergency fund in place, I recommend following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps:

  • Baby Step 1 – $1,000 cash in bank as fast as you can. It’s only to be used for emergencies.
  • Baby Step 2 – Pay off all debt (other than your home) using the Debt Snowball
  • Baby Step 3 – 3 to 6 months of expenses in emergency fund.
  • To see the rest of Dave’s baby’s steps – click here.
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    Why Plan a Funeral

    According to recent reports, the percentage of Americans prematurely cashing out of their 401K funds has increased by 25%. Most say that they simply need the money to pay their bills. Next, consider that the percentage of people in the US who own a life insurance policy has fallen to historic lows. Only 41% of Americans now have a life insurance policy. Finally, another recent study claims that the average American only has $3800 in savings.

    Given these depressing facts, let’s now consider a very sobering scenario: someone in the household passes away. The family visits the neighborhood funeral home and express their wishes and desires for a fitting funeral and burial for their loved one. The funeral director tallies up the list of expenses and presents the family with a bill for $10,550 (the cost of an average funeral in 2012). Now what? The funeral home may offer financing options through a related finance company with an obnoxious interest rate. The 401K is gone, the insurance is non-existent and the $3800 in savings is grossly inadequate. This is the nightmare that an increasing number of Americans are confronting. Wasn’t the loss of life bad enough? It is imperative that families create contingency plans so that the dark day of death is not further complicated by a lack of finances!


    Debts of the Deceased

    Who is responsible for the debts of a decedent is a common question when a loved one passes away. Here are a few questions we need to ask.


    Was there a co-applicant (also known as a co-borrower) on the debt? For example, if the decedent was married did the spouse also apply for the debt. A person other than a spouse could also be a co-applicant. The co-applicant would have submitted information to the lender during the approval process.


    Was there a co-signer? In cases where the lender (the bank) believes the person requesting the loan is a high risk of not repaying, the lender may require a co-signer. The co-signer is responsible for the debt if the applicant does not pay the debt.


    Are there ‘authorized users’? For example, a parent may have a credit card and allow an adult child to use the credit, however, the ‘authorized user’ was not a co-applicant and not a co-signer but has the privilege of using the credit card. The authorized user would not be responsible for the debt.

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