Life is often stressful. There are many events in life that increase our stress. Some things are bad like death of a loved one or the loss of employment. Some things are good like marriage or a new baby. While even good things can add to our current stress levels, too much stress is a bad thing that can prevent us from enjoying or appreciating the good things in our lives. Uncertainty is frequently a cause of stress.
While some may consider filing bankruptcy to be stressful, in fact it can be the solution to the emotional costs of too much stress caused by the major problems that lead to the filing of bankruptcy.
Holmes and Rahe (1967) developed a questionnaire called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) for identifying major stressful life events.
Each one of the 43 stressful life events was awarded a Life Change Unit depending on how traumatic it was felt to be by a large sample of participants.
Many of the events they ranked as high in causing stress are the same events frequently associated with bankruptcy: death of a spouse, marriage or divorce or marital separation, loss of or a change in employment, major personal illness, taking on any new loan, foreclosure or repossession.
While focusing on the stress is not usually helpful, neither is ignoring it or the issues causing the stress. Many of my clients are amazed at how much the filing of their bankruptcy is such a dramatic lifting of the weights on their shoulders they had been carrying for so long without fully realizing how much of a burden they were. Indeed, many clients feel a lifting of their stress just after an initial consultation with a bankruptcy attorney as they understand what bankruptcy can or cannot do for them. I think that is because getting the information from that consultation reduces their uncertainty and usually offers them a path forward, much like a light at the end of the tunnel.
While some may view bankruptcy as giving up, I believe it is usually the wisest choice for some people when they need to reduce the uncertainty and stress in their lives as much as possible while seeking a fresh start in their finances.
By Bill Turner, W M Law Attorney
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