The New York Life pinnacle

For as much bad rap as the insurance industry gets, what makes it especially unfair is when we see stories of how the industry does truly selfless acts of goodwill that still get underreported.

Last month, we reported on how New York Life launched www.AChildInGrief.com, a website for parents, families and educators to support bereaved children. Sure, there is a value-add angle to this, I suppose, but at the heart of it is a company’s effort to ease the pain of grieving children. Value-add or not, this is a good thing.

So I wasn’t all that surprised to see New York Life make headlines again when it announced that its employees had put in, over the course of September, more than 1,600 employees on 116 different community projects for more than 6,000 hours of total community service. The service was all to further the support for childhood bereavement, and the total effort came out to the equivalent of 3.3 people working full-time for a year. That’s pretty impressive stuff.

New York Life did this by volunteering at bereavement camps for kids – which I must admit I did not know even existed until I wrote this article. They participated in fundraising efforts for bereavement organizations and created comfort items for grieving children. In the meantime, New York Life has continued to enhance its A Child in Grief site with new video content.

I really hope this effort does not fizzle once the enthusiasm of September fades. For an industry that focuses so much on providing families with comfort, both material and personal, while coping with tragedy, the plight of the kids never seems to get mentioned as often as it ought to be. Children are many times mentioned as a weird sort of afterthought, as if the industry doesn’t really know what to do with them. Grieving moms, that it can handle. They probably bought the life policy, after all. But what to do with the kids? At last New York Life is giving them the attention they need. And bravo to them for it.

I remember at my own father’s funeral this April how at the end, my 11-year-old daughter just burst into tears. it was strange, because for everybody else close to my father, we were at the hospice as he lay dying. We all got that rare gift of saying good-bye. And it provides a depth of closure that is impossble to convey. You just have to have been there to know. So when my daughter broke down, suddenly, we didn’t know how to react. We were not quite in that place of grief. But nobody grieves as purely as a child. Nobody feels a loss, no matter how timely, with such keen appreciation at the unfairness of it all. And kids are smarter and more sensitive than we ever give them credit for. They grieve just as hard as we do, if not harder. Maybe a reason why it’s so much tougher on them is because we never quite give them the support we give ourselves.

Regardless, it is wonderful to see New York Life step into the breach on this one. Surely they were not the only do-gooders in September, and I really hope that you’ll all leave comments in the comment section of this post to let me know what your company was doing to make the world a better place. You’ve got my word that I’ll look into each and every one and give them some time in the spotlight, too. You guys all deserve as much good press as you can get.