Like a great friend, new business offers help in tough times

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Hands with a Heart offers a range of serves for families going through a rough time, with everything from adjusting to the birth of a first child, to having an ill family member. | Jackie Pilossoph~for Sun-Times Media

Hands with a Heart

Claire Hertz Bernstein, PsyD.

(847) 942-4802

NORTHBROOK — Moving a parent or a loved one out of his or her home and into senior living is extremely difficult and emotional for most people. Even worse, when a parent or a spouse dies, going through his or her belongings can be stressful, depressing and almost unbearable.

Claire Hertz Bernstein, founder of her new business, Hands with a Heart, steps into those and other difficult situations, and provides both emotional and practical support.

“The death or illness of a loved one is traumatic,” said Bernstein, who holds a doctorate in psychology and who worked in the field seeing families and children for over 10 years. “People have so much going on emotionally, and I am that comforting person who comes in and will be with you and talk with you and go through the stuff. If I can get rid of that burden for someone, that’s great.”

Bernstein, who has lived in Northbrook with her husband and three children for 15 years, launched the business in November, after being a stay-at-home mom and working part time in the non-profit sector for several years. She said Hands with a Heart is a perfect match for her lifelong passion for helping others and providing a service that is deeply needed.

Hands with a Heart offers a range of services for families going through a rough time, with everything from adjusting to the birth of a first child, to having an ill family member and organizing his or her bills and paperwork that fall into disarray, to helping clients research different living options for an aging parent. She also helps with moves and cleaning out a house after someone has died.

“I go through the belongings and help clients decide what to keep, what to donate and what to sell,” she said.

Mara Lazar is a Skokie-based liquidator and founder of her company, Organizing Options of Illinois, and recently hired Bernstein to help her with a client who was downsizing.

“This was a very fragile situation and I knew the client needed extra assistance because it was an extremely difficult situation for him,” said Lazar. “I specifically brought in Claire because of her training in psychology, knowing her skill set would benefit him and she could offer additional support as he progressed through the work he needed done by the time he had to move.”

Bernstein charges a flat project fee or an hourly fee that starts at $50 per hour, and said all fees are discussed at the initial consultation.

Both of Bernstein’s parents have passed away, and she said through her experience of taking care of a sick parent, losing them both, and having to figure out how to handle things after their deaths, it has given her much needed empathy for the business.

“I still hear my parents’ voices and it gives me comfort,” said Bernstein. “I know my parents would be so happy that this is what I’m doing.”

“Claire was right there with ‘How can I help you? and ‘What can I do to make this easier for you?’” said Lazar. “She was outstanding. No doubt she will be very successful. She genuinely cares.”