At 23, entrepreneur Sarah Grifferty saw first hand how difficult and complicated the practical side of settling an estate after a loved one dies can be. She founded LooseEnds to help make the process easier for others. Sarah will be leading a lunchtime conversation at End Well 2023 on November 16th in Los Angeles.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m the founder and CEO of LooseEnds, an after loss service that helps families with settling affairs after the death of a loved one. While I spend most of my days thinking about death, grief, and the ensuing logistics, I’ve never been “passionate” about it, as many entrepreneurs are told to feel. But what I do feel is endlessly frustrated and curious about what families must endure and I’m committed to finding solutions that can help during some of the worst times in a person’s life.
Q: Was there a defining moment in your life that ignited your passion to address end-of-life experiences openly?
I lost both my parents when I was fairly young, and became an executor at 23. At a base level, I knew this would be a terrible emotional rollercoaster. But what I was never prepared for was how awful the practical side was – the coordination, paperwork, asset management, etc. And I was shocked to find very few resources that helped. That piece stayed with me for a long time and led me to find a better way to support families who had recently experienced a loss.
Q: In your experience, what is the most significant societal norm or belief about death and dying that needs to be challenged or redefined?
I think there is a myth that estate planning takes care of everything. Don’t get me wrong, I will always encourage estate and end-of-life planning. But I think we have an illusion that if someone plans, it will be easy afterwards. It’s a compelling myth because it allows us to believe we’ve taken care of everything before death, but I wish that families and professionals talked more about what will remain and how to navigate that. I hope in time that we can both encourage end-of-life planning, and find space in our society to recognize and support all that cannot be done in advance.
Q: How do you hope various professions and disciplines can come together to create a more human-centered approach to end-of-life care and experiences?
I think often about a world where financial institutions, utility providers, insurance, and the government come together to make processing, transferring, or closing accounts easier in the case of death or incapacitation. You fill out the “deceased’s” name dozens of times, spend hours on hold with customer service teams, and encounter constant delays for unexplained reasons, just to name a few things. These are the last things you should have to focus on. I dream about the day when you call (or go online) and are directed immediately to the right person, who speaks with empathy, who assures you that your loved one is more than a pile of paperwork.
Q: Is there a book, movie, piece of art, or another form of media that profoundly impacted your views on mortality?
In mainstream media I seldom saw anything that resembled my grief and loss journey until I saw Manchester by the Sea. It lacked some of the typical glamorization of death/dying/grief that I saw often in film/tv. It showed the normal stuff I dealt with – being in the car all the time, the awkwardness of accepting constant condolences, complex feelings around inherited responsibilities. It made me feel seen in many ways.
Q: Why are you attending End Well 2023?
For the people involved in this space. I often have the pleasure in this line of work to meet some of the most hopeful, innovative, influential, and grounded people. I deeply appreciate this community.
Q: Who do you hope to meet there?
Anyone I haven’t met yet!
Sarah Grifferty is the Founder & CEO of LooseEnds, an after loss service that helps families with settling affairs after death. Since its infancy, LooseEnds has provided a concierge service to guide, organize, and support executors through the administrative tasks and logistics that arise. Looking ahead, the company is digitizing parts of the process to make it more streamlined and less burdensome. Sarah comes to this work after losing both her parents and experiencing the frustration and pain of the current system. She previously worked in data analytics and investment management before going back to school to start LooseEnds. Sarah graduated from American University with a double major in International Studies (2014), and holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson (2022).