About Us

About Us admin September 5, 2019

We’ve been there, too.

Navigating life’s transitions. Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of paperwork and tasks. Unsure of who to call first and what to do next. Feeling like there was no space to grieve.

We understand that whether you’re legacy planning or handling the death of a loved one, managing the business of death can be completely overwhelming.

And we’ve walked this road alone so you don’t have to.

Which is why it’s our mission to help as many families as possible create space to live worry-free and grieve in peace.

Meet our Founder, Rachel Donnelly

Some days I feel like a real-life Little Orphan Annie whose life should be subtitled “Death Becomes Her.” (I’m joking! Sort of.) 

Growing up, I used to accompany my father on his house calls and hospital rounds, which gave me a deep understanding of compassion and leaning into hard spaces.When I was 16, my father passed away at the age of 48. A few years later, we moved my grandmother to an assisted living home where she passed shortly after.

Several years later, my mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away shortly thereafter. Her passing left me with five houses to clean out and sell, as well as her role as caregiver for my uncle. After my uncle passed away, I assumed the role of Co-Executrix of his estate.

Needless to say… I’ve dealt with a lot of death. And in these instances — especially the two where I was Executor — there were so many decisions to make and tasks to complete. 

And I was doing it all while trying to work full time, raise two small kids, run a house and stay married (because let’s be honest… life never stops, not even for death).

I vividly remember standing in the parking lot of the bank after spending hours trying to (unsuccessfully) open an estate banking account and thinking to myself, “Why isn’t there someone who can help project manage this dumpster fire?!” 

Which is how Black Dress Consultants came to be. 

I created this business because this is the service I wish I had available to me then. Many times over, I’ve been where you are right now. I understand how overwhelming and emotionally taxing it can be. But you don’t have to do this alone. 

My team and I are here to help you manage the expected and unexpected of end-of-life. Whether you’re looking for someone to help legacy plan, or you’re dealing with the loss of a loved one and don’t know where to start, we have ample experience in taking tasks off your plate so you can free up space to breathe. 

A little more about me…

I am a graduate of Agnes Scott College and I live in Decatur with my husband, Zack and our two amazing children. I serve on the Board of Directors on Love Not Lost, an Atlanta non-profit that provides grief tools and free photography sessions for families facing terminal diagnoses. I also am one of the co-founders of Professionals of After Loss Services (PALS), which is a training and support network for industry professionals who provide services to individuals and families after the loss of a loved one.

When you’re ready for help, I’m here for you. 

Why the name Black Dress Consultants?

People often wonder why I chose Black Dress Consultants as a name for my business. Besides the obvious reasons that people wear black to funerals, there’s a bit more to the story. 

Photo courtesy of AJC. Dressed as a Civil War widow in the first stage of mourning, Carolyn Balog of Hampton, Ga., walks among the graves at Oakland Cemetery.

As a research librarian and self-described historian, my mother was an expert on the practice of Victorian mourning in 19th century America. She worked as a docent at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta dressed to the nines in her time period black hoop skirt, veil, blouse, shoes, and more. In this picture, she is dressed as a Civil War widow in the first stage of mourning. My sister and I would frequently be embarrassed to be seen with her dressed like that and do rock-paper-scissors to see whose turn it was to drop mom off at the cemetery. Yet, it’s what she loved and where she shined. 

My mother’s passing was one of several life experiences that contributed to my founding of this company, so it was only appropriate that I honor her memory and her favorite pastime by referencing that very Black Dress in my business name. A few modern touches here and there to the brand image and there you have it – Black Dress Consultants was born.

I founded this company with one thing in mind: making end-of-life transitions easier. If you or someone you know is thinking of planning ahead and getting affairs in order in advance, or if you or someone you know recently lost a loved one and have no idea where to start with what they left behind, we’re here to help and we’re ready to chat when you are. Just schedule a free consultation – absolutely no obligations or strings attached.

Aren’t sure where to start? 

We totally get it. This process can be super overwhelming! We offer free consultations where you can ask questions, get information, and talk things through with someone who’s been there.