Dealing with death is never easy. Frugal Dad, a blogger buddy, lost his mother on Sunday. I never met the gentleman or his mother. I haven’t even talked to him on the phone, but I call him my friend. He helped and encouraged me with my blog even though he didn’t know me at all and had nothing to gain by it. Using his time to help wasn’t something he considered in a list of great small business ideas, but he felt it was the right thing to do.
I’ve grown to like and respect him a great deal. Knowing what he and his family are going through now is painful. The pain stems from the fact that I just don’t know what to say to help him get through this. I think we all want to help people who are in these situations, but we often struggle to find a meaningful way to do so.
When he published a post telling his readers about what happened to his mother, he received over 130 comments expressing condolences. It’s a testament to how connected his readers are to him. But at the end of the day, most of us said pretty much the same thing: “Sorry for your loss.” “My prayers are with you.” What else is there to say? I’m sure my buddy appreciated the outpouring of concern, but I wasn’t convinced it did much to ease his pain.
Don’t get me wrong. Each comment was heartfelt and genuine. But my experience tells me that when you are in the middle of a situation like that, the pain can be so intense that it’s hard to feel anything else. Maybe that’s the way it has to be. When we go through things like this, we just have to go through the process, and maybe there isn’t anything anyone else can do to make it easier.
I don’t pretend to know what my pal is going through right now, but I have experienced some pretty painful episodes in my life. I can tell you that I did appreciate others’ concerns…but it didn’t make it any easier. What did help was the suggestion that the person I had become was a reflection of the people I had lost. And to the extent that I live responsibly, honestly and with integrity, I keep the memory alive of those I’ve lost.
That’s my personal definition of success. This idea is much more powerful than I thought at first. When I remember that there is some part of me that reflects the best part of the people I love, I hold myself to a higher standard – and I expect others to treat me with more respect too.
It’s called humility. Not holding myself above or below anyone else – regardless of how much or how little money I (or they) have. I can expect mutual respect without having the fear of criticism. This can actually be a strong motivator in all our financial lives. We’ve all lost people we love. We can keep a part of them alive in us by being the kind of person they modeled for us. Honesty. Integrity. Responsibility. And making sure we only deal with people of similar character without fear of criticism.
When we allow others who don’t treat us well into our financial lives, we diminish ourselves and, in some ways, the people we love too. My experience bears this out. When I act in a way I can be proud of and when I only deal with others who are willing to treat me fairly, in some way, I just feel closer to the people I love – alive or otherwise.
These words can’t really help my friend right now. He’s grieving at the moment – just as he should be. But my dealings with him prove to me that he is a person of integrity, responsibility and honesty. So he’s going to find it easy, at some point, to feel close to his mother again. I hope that you haven’t lost people you love. But if you have, what helped you most? Did it change the way you deal with other people?