Sometimes when I meet with families to discuss filing for bankruptcy the tone of the meeting turns from a legal consultation to something more akin to a confessional. I will sit and listen while fathers and mothers pour their heart out as to why they are in their current situation and how terrible they feel about it. I hear of how things used to be – great credit, great job, thriving businesses.
And then…the bottom fell out.
As with most of life’s challenges there is usually an element of poor decision making or being a little too willing to push the limits. But with most of the families I meet there has been some significant event that has resulted in them being overwhelmed by their debt. Often it is a medical crisis, the failing of a business, or simply being let go from a job that was critical to keeping the family afloat that leads to a bankruptcy filing.
Every day I have people tell me “I can’t believe I am sitting here contemplating bankruptcy.” There are a lot of tears shed in my office. No one wants to file for bankruptcy.
Sometimes when I post articles on my law firm’s Facebook page I will get critical comments from people asking “why don’t these people just pay their debts!?”. It is surprising to me how judgmental we can be of a family’s situation that we really know nothing about.
It is also my experience that those who tend to be the most judgmental simply haven’t had enough life experience to realize that financial problems can truly happen to anyone. No matter how smart, wealthy, responsible, or honest you think you are, most of us are one life crisis away from filing our own bankruptcy.
Have you ever known someone who does everything you are supposed to do to keep healthy – they eat right, exercise – the whole nine yards; and then they end up with cancer? I have seen the financial equivalent of that hundreds of times. Savvy businessmen and women who have “done it the right way” who see a downturn in their financial fortune almost over night.
My point in this article is I understand that what you are going through is terrible. You can’t sleep. You are stressed out. You can’t see a way out of this mess. And while bankruptcy is not completely painless, it does offer a way out and a chance to start over.
So…while I understand you are embarrassed and discouraged about filing for bankruptcy, know this – bankruptcy does not mean you are a bad person. There are millions of great people who have had to go through what you are facing, and they made it through. It is somewhat cliche, but bankruptcy truly can be a fresh start.