As has happened to me many times before, this week I found myself inspired by a eulogy. Every funeral I attend leaves me a better person because of something I learn about the deceased, and their life well lived.
Jay was a friend of mine. We didn’t have a deep relationship, but because of the kind of person Jay was, I greatly valued the time I spent with him. He passed away far too young, at only 63, two-and-a-half years after he was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease.
At the pinnacle of his remarkable business career, Jay was the CEO of a giant insurance company and he and I had some limited business interaction. My family and I were also members of the same synagogue as Jay and his family.
Jay’s funeral was remarkable, which was not a surprise, because Jay was a remarkable person.
After very moving words from a long-time colleague, a long-time friend, each of his two sons, and his wife, one of Jay’s colleagues read a letter Jay wrote back in May; a letter Jay asked to be read at his funeral. Everyone in the room knew we were going to hear some very inspiring words.
Jay’s message was simple. It was about gratitude.
He first talked about the silver linings that came out of his otherwise tragic battle with ALS. As Jay explained, many of us, when we go to funerals and hear beautiful words about the deceased, will think how nice it would have been if the deceased had been able to hear the amazing words being spoken. Because everyone knew Jay’s time was going to be short, Jay heard from countless people over the past year about how he touched their lives and what he meant to them. In effect, Jay got to hear his own eulogies.
At the same time, knowing his time was short, Jay was able to express his love and gratitude to everyone in his life.
And here he was doing it one last time. Jay was able to speak at his own funeral, expressing his love and gratitude to his family, his friends, his colleagues, his doctors—everyone who was a part of his life. And that made it easy for all of us to remember this: when someone passes away we will most certainly mourn the loss, but at the same time it’s important to celebrate their life and be grateful for the memories and lessons we will retain. And in that way, they will not be gone, but instead remain with us forever.
What have been some of your inspirations, whether from a eulogy or otherwise? Join the conversation with your comments…