She only made friends, she never made enemies

For David

Life Coaching is all about setting goals and making action plans. I am just like what you probable imagine a life coach is like: energetic, bursting with Positive Mental Attitude, offering a prêt-à-vivre wisdom for each occasion- Be Your Own Powerhouse!- and of course inevitably having my own tag line: Live Your Life At Its Best.

This afternoon, I went to a funeral, for Pam, am old lady, an acquaintance. I arrived early at the church and I started to have a conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me. “So, how do you know Pam”, I asked him. He smiled gently and explained that he goes to the 6pm Evensong church service on Sundays and that Pam used to lead the Collect. He went on and on about the fact that every week Pam would offer the most thoughtful and beautiful prayers and that he misses her very much. At that point an usher asked me to move seat. I found myself sitting next to another gentleman. “So, how do you know Pam?” It turned out that Pam attended his Poetry Reading group and that every fortnight their gatherings were a joy. Smiling sadly he added “she was wonderful, we are all going to miss her dearly.”

By that time, I felt a little sad myself and that was because I never got to know Pam well and I obviously had missed out. It was also clear that we were gathered to celebrate the life of someone exceptional.

Pam’s husband, David, got up for the eulogy. It was simply the most beautiful eulogy that I had ever heard. He took all his time and quietly related to us the whole of Pam’s life, starting with her parents, her birth, her early childhood… her generosity, her gift for friendship, her dedication for her family… each phase of her life marked by an anecdote, either touching or funny or both. David is quite a story teller and he had a precious story to tell. At one point, as David was reminiscing about Pam joining an ecumenical group, he remarked “she only made friends, she never made enemies”. He said that matter of factly but what a striking observation! A thought crossed my mind like a flash: I would love to have someone say this about me at my funeral. Indeed, that would be the conclusion of a life well lived. It got me thinking, thinking like a life coach. Imagine having a eulogy like that as a goal, as a life goal. That would truly be transforming! This would be goal setting taken to the next level! The ultimate goal. All the other goals seem so petty in comparison. As a coach I encourage people not to set goals in a vacuum but as part of a lifestyle, holistically if you like. Imagine the lifestyle to reach such a goal! Well, I had just witnessed what reaching that goal would look like and feel like, excuse the coaching jargon.

Going to a funeral can be emotionally draining even if one does not know the person well. We have to face our own mortality and feel the suffering of the mourners. Today, au contraire I went home feeling fuller and richer and yes bursting with Positive Mental Attitude. Pam had lived her life at its best.

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