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Featured New York Life agent: George Shadie

George Shadie
  • Hails from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Office, specifically Wilkes-Barre
  • Carefully analyzes his clients' needs and goals in order to help them prepare for their financial future
  • Son Alex and wide Brenda, along with her two children Brendan and Francesca (see photo), have brought renewed joy to his life

Agent George R. Shadie, AEP, CLU on Love, Loss and the Power of Life Insurance

After the sudden and devastating loss of his wife, Claire, on the evening of October 10, 2001, Agent George R. Shadie, AEP, CLU, has come to understand and appreciate two things about his profession: the importance of having life insurance in place, especially for stay-at-home spouses, and the sensitivity needed when working with clients who are experiencing a loss.

Shadie, who hails from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Office, specifically Wilkes-Barre, remembers, “Claire was an amazing person. She was a wife, mother, sister, aunt, great friend, and very devoted to raising awareness about autism, which our son, Alex, was diagnosed with at age four and a half. In fact, Claire was so devoted; she was dubbed the ‘Angel of Autism’ by those in our support network. Losing her was earth-shattering not only for me, but for many people, especially Alex who was 12 at the time”

The Gift of Life Insurance: Allowing Time for Healing

Shadie never realized how much Claire, a stay-at-home mother, actually did on a day-to-day basis until she was gone. She handled many things: record-keeping, maintenance, cooking, scheduling appointments — just to name a few. “Her loss meant that our family had lost its best friend, companion, and mother, but also that I had to find others to do the things that Claire always did, the things that make a family run effortlessly,” says Shadie.

As an agent, he did realize that Claire’s life needed to be insured, that her untimely loss would create significant economic, as well as emotional pain. “Luckily, Claire and I had done the long-term planning, and her death benefit allowed me the financial means to be able to pay for the services we needed, and ensure that they were of the highest quality.”

For example, hiring responsible people to take care of tasks such as housekeeping was initially a challenge until he found just the right person. Even more of an issue was finding quality caretakers for Alex, who has limited verbal skills. Additionally, it became necessary for Shadie to hire people to drive Alex to and from appointments. “Too many people overlook all these aspects of a stay-at-home spouse and what their loss would mean,” says Shadie. “It’s something I stress with my prospects and clients today.”

And, explains Shadie, the death benefit not only ensured that his family was able to continue running fairly smoothly, but that they could take the time to heal. “We had the financial freedom to dine out on those nights when I was just too wiped out to cook. We were also able to take several ‘grief trips.’ These were therapeutic in that it allowed us time to just be together as a family — to talk and grieve and remember Claire. For example, Alex loves Disney World, so after his mother passed away, I took him there. It was good for us to spend time together and just laugh.”

And, when it all seemed too much to bear, the death benefit allowed Shadie to obtain professional grief counseling for himself as well.

“I had no warning of Claire’s death, which made it so devastating,” says Shadie. “In fact, I had returned home earlier than usual that day, and we had spent wonderful hours together. I was in no way prepared for what happened, and it just shows how volatile life can be. Luckily, the death benefit and the passing of time allowed Alex and me time to grieve and then heal, and get the help our family needed.”

The Importance of Careful Planning

His personal loss has made Shadie highly sensitive to the needs of his clients as they deal with their own grief. “I truly understand how they may be feeling, and empathize with their situation,” he says.

Shadie says, “When they do feel ready to sit down with me and prepare their financial future, I make sure that we carefully analyze their needs and goals. All the while, I keep in mind how important that planning was in my own situation and the importance that life insurance played in my healing process. Helping my clients in this way has allowed me to sleep peacefully at night.”

Now, over a decade later, Shadie has found love again with his wife, Brenda, whom he met at a national autism conference.

He says thoughtfully, “Brenda, along with her two children Brendan and Francesca, has brought joy into our lives. Claire had a saying, ‘When God closes one door, He opens another.’ And you know, she was exactly right.”