Why Funerals are Great Motivators










Thomas Mues via Compfight

Yes the title is correct, the older we get, the more that funerals should make us grateful that it is someone else’s funeral not our own. The more also that we should be motivated to use our remaining years – and no matter what age we are, we have no way of knowing how many we have – to the best of our ability.

Yesterday I went to the funeral of a friend, he was also a neighbour and a business connection. As with all funerals, it was a sad event but lightened by fond memories shared by his family and those who knew him. The saddest part was that he was not yet 50, closer to my sons’ ages than my own. His life cut short by cancer.

We all have different levels of faith and different interpretations why some good, honest, hard-working people are denied their normal span of years while some others we consider “bad” ranging from minor criminals to perpetrators of genocide, live to a ripe old age.

I am not trying to start a religious or philosophical debate. My friend’s funeral was a stark reminder of how short life can be. A reminder to be grateful that I have already been granted many more years of life than he was. That I have already survived several near misses from accidents, criminals, terrorists, out-of-control governments and a heart attack.

It was another wake up call, by the law of averages, I am in the last quarter or at best, the last third of my natural years. It reminded me how much I still need to do in this lifetime. Every year my list of goals gets longer while the years left to achieve them become fewer.

Living in a much more turbulent and dangerous part of the world for most of my life, I have attended many funerals. This was the first funeral service I had attended in Canada, it was also the first church service presided over by a woman pastor or vicar that I have attended. The first in a church of that particular denomination. All very different to what I remember from my Anglican upbringing.

Based on this first experience of a lady preacher, I think churches have done their  congregations a huge disservice by preserving the priesthood as a male only discipline. It seems to me that women are infinitely better able to offer comfort to the bereaved than men. Perhaps it was suspected that women would not be brutal enough to enforce obedience in the Dark Ages, or as efficient as men at relieving poor parishioners of a tenth of their earnings to subsidise the religious empires of old.

Whatever the background, I was impressed by the sincerity and empathy she brought to the service. For this conservative old baby boomer, it settled once and for all the debate about women as priests, pastors, vicars or even bishops. Women have excelled at high rank in business, government and the military, why not the church.

What’s the point of this post? What is the message I am trying to give you?

Very simply, a reminder that whether your age is 20 or 70, your days on this earth are limited. Very few people live to be 100 and many of those are not able to live an active life for their last few years.

It is almost the end of January, a twelfth of the year gone already, how much progress have you made towards the goals you set 4 weeks or so ago at the end of last year? Are you one of the dreamers or hopers who made some New Years Resolutions which have now been discarded along with the Christmas present wrapping paper. Or are you taking action every day to achieve something worthwhile in 2013?

Don’t get complacent if you are a lot younger than my generation, 3 short years ago, the friend we mourned yesterday was a strong, healthy man with no symptoms of the disease that ended his life prematurely.

On a brighter note, some time ago, I published a post on the value of a long-term repeat customer. I updated the story, but in view of the different direction this blog has taken, I felt it would fit better on my business blog. You can find it here:

The Secret of Long Term Customers

Wishing you success in achieving your goals in 2013.

Peter Wright

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