It took three words…
“My daughter died”
I wanted to crawl up in a ball.
I wanted to rewind time by ten seconds.
I wished more than anything else I’d been a lot more sensitive.
I’d, innocently and in my ignorance, with a retrospectively inappropriate big broad smile on my face, and asked cheerfully “How was your summer?”
The answer, from a local business connection I like and respect, set me back but also made me think. I decided after making a massively embarrassing faux pas that there was only one thing I could do.
The mans daughter had woken up with flu symptoms. After a day or so it’d got worse and Mum and Dad had started to worry. A visit to the hospital resulted in a trip to Great Ormond Street and due to the seriousness (and rareness) of the condition, which started off as a viral infection, there was nothing they could do.
The mans daughter was ten years old.
I thought about my two daughters, how much I love them and how horrendous it must be for any parent to lose a child.
The man was clearly grieving but in his words ‘had to cope’.
The man and his wife had a 6 year old too…he told me he ‘had no choice but to be strong for her’.
The man also talked about the amazing care Great Ormond Street provided to his daughter and from what he saw the other children in their care, so much so that he had decided to start volunteering his time. (you can find out more about the awesome work they do here)
After the conversation with the man I started to think…
When it comes to the things in life that truly matter…
Money is way down on that list…
What matters is family, fun and trying to make every day count.
What matters is relationships, meaningful work and building memories with the people you love, like and trust.
What matters most is people. Not money.
As advisers we know that…
We know it when we have conversations with clients where we’ve told them they can live the life they want without running out of money and their focus is on the life they want to live.
We know it in our own lives when our professional reputations doing the right thing every single time for our clients in our own businesses are far more important than earning an extra bob or two short term.
We know it when we have a conversation about a life which is ended way too soon with a grieving father when all he wishes for is more time.
The truth is that I was inadequately emotionally equipped to help that man. I tried my best but in retrospect I wished I could have been more comforting.
However I’m grateful to the man.
For showing me what true strength looks like.
For showing me how in times of desperation sometimes the best thing you can do is try to help someone else…
…and for reminding me that whilst all life is balance, and there isn’t anything wrong with aspiration and hard work, I’d rather have more time with the people I love than more money to spend on them.
What do you think?