In Honor of Bernie, By Andrea Lopes

It is with great sadness that we inform you that Bernie passed away on Sunday, January 20, 2019

Bernard M. Raiche, Ed.D., LCSW-C

He was a kind, gentle, compassionate man. I had known Bernie for over 10 years and always admired his work ethic and passion for helping others.   It wasn’t until I read his obituary that I realized how old he was. When I realized he was 74, I was shocked. In my eyes, Bernie worked as if he were a man in his 30’s at the height of his career.   He held many different positions and roles during his career both paid and volunteer, including, teacher, lawyer, therapist and administrative director.  Whatever Bernie was involved in held the purpose and intent of helping others.

Over the past year and half,  I grew to rely on the steady, calm, reassuring support I received from him.    Bernie would come into the office in the evenings, often carrying his signature large McDonald’s bag, pop into the front office where I was usually sitting during that time of the day and check in with me before seeing his first patient.    There were times I was concerned or upset about something and he  would sit with me for a few minutes to listen, offer words of advise or wisdom and most importantly, assure me that everything would be okay.   Bernie understood.  I could be open and honest with him, knowing that he wouldn’t judge, wouldn’t tell me what I “should” do, but instead, offer his calm, reassurance that whatever I was concerned about would ultimately work out just fine.   Starting a new business wasn’t easy, there were many obstacles I faced.  Bernie, being an attorney and therapist, had the special ability of being able to see all sides of a situation.   He didn’t rush to judgement.  He understood that life wasn’t black and white.  That things weren’t always just right and wrong.  Bernie didn’t judge people based on one behavior, mistake, or situation.   I admired that about him.  It is always a welcome gift to me when I meet people like Bernie.    I tend to see the best in people and understand the worst is usually the expression of their pain and hurt.   I’ve often been told that, “I’m too nice.” or “I give people too many chances.”, but I don’t see it that way.  While we do have to set limits, I do believe that for the most part, people do the best they can and deserve another chance.  I believe Bernie felt that way too.

He encouraged me and expressed positive feedback about what I was creating at Flourish.  This meant the world to me. I missed my father during this time and Bernie represented a fatherly figure to me.  He offered to help me in any way he could. Whether it was legal advice, helping with supervision for our clinicians, or being flexible with his office, Bernie was ALWAYS willing to help.    I appreciated his support more than I believe I ever expressed to him.  Yes, I thanked him all the time, but I wish I had taken the time that I am taking now to truly express my feelings of appreciation for him before he left this world.

So… I’m taking the time now.  Bernie, thank you. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for believing in me.  Thank you for easing my worries with your calm, gentle, reassuring words.  Thank you for helping me.  Most importantly, thank you for filling my office with your kindness, compassion, patience and positive energy.   I have spoken with several of your  patients this week.  Bernie, they felt the same way about you.  In fact, I’m sure that anyone that knew you felt this way.  Bernie,  you were a very special person who had a positive impact on many.

Lastly, Bernie, I’m sorry for all the times we set the alarm, locked up the office and turned off the lights while you were still in session.   LOL.  You would come out of your office and everything was pitch black and your next patient was locked outside.  Bernie, you were so patient with all of us.    I finally put a big pink sticky note by the alarm that said, “Please check to see if Bernie is still here before locking up.”   Why I didn’t think of that before I don’t know, but you never lost your patience.   We finally got it right.  Taking that big pink sticky note down was very hard.   I think it will take a while before I remember to stop checking to see if you are still upstairs.   Rest in peace.  I will miss you.  Thank You Bernie!

 

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