When we are faced with tragedy, so much is realized about ourselves and those around us.
A friend of mine shared a story with me recently that really struck me. Her boss’ father recently passed away and he had also worked for the same company for many years. He had only recently left the business himself due to ongoing health issues.
He was a relatively nice man but did not have a ton of allies at the office due to his fierce and controlling attitude towards other colleagues, including my friend. And unfortunately, due to an unwavering personality conflict right from the start, they never really got along and parted ways on mediocre terms.
So when the news of his passing broke, she felt really torn about whether she should attend the funeral or not.
In all of this, two very important life lessons emerged:
1) Always do what is right in times of tragedy: If you feel even the least bit conflicted about attending a funeral service for someone you were only acquainted with, or had a troubled past with, etc, follow your heart and do the right thing by going. Be the bigger person and take the time to just pay your respects – you will feel really good about your decision in the end.
2) People’s true colours emerge: People’s true character tend to surface in the wake of a tragedy. Unfortunately, much to my friend’s surprise, only a small number of colleagues actually showed up to the service, and those that were expected to go without any question, ended up being no-shows. Meetings and conference calls can always be rescheduled, but a funeral service only takes place once. This is where you really get a sense of people’s priorities in the face of a tragedy.
My friend was sure that her boss would never expect her to attend the funeral – she had pitched in some money for a floral arrangement and signed a sympathy card which could very well have been enough – but she knew deep down that she had to go. After all, she was blessed with a good heart and compromising that simply was not an option.
And that’s really what it’s all about. Ultimately, you need to stay true to yourself and do what will make you feel good at the end of the day. If others around you choose not to take the altruistic route, that’s their own choice.
So she attended the funeral and paid her respects. Her boss spotted her at the service and they exchanged very genuine and appreciative smiles, and that made it all worthwhile.
So the key message here is that no matter how shaky your relationships might be – personally or professionally – when there is a tragedy, you put your differences aside, get your priorities straight, and remember that you are human and act accordingly.