Most of us have learned to separate the personal from the business aspects of our lives, even though advisors are constantly dealing with clients’ most intimate issues. That’s why it’s rare to hear an advisor speak openly about his own family matters, especially when those matters are as somber as they can be. But Mitch Kramer, in private conversations and public forums, talks openly if haltingly about the serious illness of his wife, Shawn, who was diagnosed last year with bile duct cancer only a month after her sister died of breast cancer. “We have time left,” Kramer states in a flat tone that belies his obvious devastation. “We just don’t know how much.”

While he allows that his wife’s illness is a “very difficult situation,” he’s not unaware of the irony that “we do financial planning for a living, we put everything in order, then life happens.” When “everything changes,” he says, the question becomes “How do you adapt to that?” The answer for Kramer, at least, is that “You have a lot of personal growth. As human beings we get tremendous growth from the adversity that life throws at us.”

Kramer has found comfort from an unexpected source: his clients. “We’ve gotten so many cards and presents and phone calls,” from clients, Kramer says, “I’m just very humbled. I knew we had a business relationship, but . . .It creates more motivation for me to do my craft, which is planning, which gives me the energy to help take care of my wife.”