I have been reading this fantastic site for years and have a number of stories I could share with you. I’m sorry that my first submission is such a sad one but it’s the one I really would love some advice about as I have no idea what to do.
Just as a bit of background, I’ve suffered from some severe anxiety/panic/depression issues on and off over the last few years. When I gave birth to my first child in March this year, it gave me the kick up the backside that I needed to try and tackle them once and for all – my beautiful son deserves a mother as mentally healthy as possible.
I live in the UK and I went through all the treatments available on the National Health Service from medication (that gave me severe side effects) to CBT (which is a wonderful thing but didn’t help me get to the root of my issues). I know that these options are brilliant for many people but they weren’t quite the right “fit” for me.
So after a lot of research, I, my husband and my doctor agreed that the best option for me was Psychotherapy. The only problem was the price – Psychotherapy is not available on the NHS and my husband and I are not rich (I do a little freelance work from home and my husband has a good job but we still don’t have chunks of money floating around).
We found a very respected, highly qualified therapist who my doctor had worked with before. I met him and felt that he would be a great fit for me so my husband and I found a way to make it work. I sold a number of my items on ebay and my husband worked himself to the bone to earn a bonus at work. Between the two of us, we managed to come up with enough money for the first three months of sessions without touching our meager savings.
I had three sessions with him and I have to say, he was absolutely marvelous. At the end of the third session, I wrote him a cheque to include the next ten sessions (I had been paying per session until then) because my husband and I wanted to know that it was paid for and that the money couldn’t be mis-allocated or used for something else. I was positive that this was the person who would help me turn things around. He really was that good.
The day before my next session, I got a call from my therapist’s wife saying that unfortunately, he had been hospitalized and would call me when he was out to reschedule. Not a problem of course. The cheque had been cashed but I had no doubt at all about the integrity of this person and was only concerned for him.
But then nearly 3 weeks passed with no word. Eventually I received a group e-mail from his wife informing us that he had passed away with a link to his obituary in the local paper.
I can’t say enough how much of a loss I think this man is to the world. In just three sessions, he made more progress with me than anything or anyone ever before put together. And during our informal out of session chats, I could tell that he was a good man who cared deeply about his patients and his field.
I replied to his widow’s e-mail with my genuine condolences and said much as I did above. She replied saying, “Thank you very much. By the way, I know that you paid “John” for more sessions than you got and I will sort that out. Good luck in your journey.”
Now this is the part that may sound tacky – it is now two months after receiving news of my therapist’s tragic death (so nearly three months since the cheque was cashed and my last therapy session) and I haven’t been refunded for the ten sessions I paid for in advance, or had any further contact.
My heart wants to let it go but I am really keen to continue with my therapy – we don’t have the money to do that without raiding my son’s savings account which really isn’t an option.
So, my big long post can really be condensed to these two questions – how on earth does one request money back from a grieving widow? And should I in the first place?
Any advice from yourself or the readers would be very much appreciated. 1114-13
As tragic as the therapist’s death is, this is a business problem, not a personal one. You paid for a service and have not received that service so you are owed a refund. I have no doubt the therapist’s widow understands this. I can’t imagine she would believe her husband’s clients owe her compensation for losing her husband. She has acknowledged that the business owes you a refund (please tell me you kept that email) and may have forgotten that in this season of grieving and estate resolution. Send her another email gently tweaking her memory and ask if there is a time frame by which you could expect a refund of your money. I don’t know how estate probate works in the UK but in the US, the estate can continue to pay debts for the deceased until the estate is settled.