READ THIS TEXT.....
WHEN IS IT ENOUGH
One day in the year 1812 a package arrived on the doorstep of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home just outside of Charlottesville,
Virginia. When Mr. Jefferson opened the package he found a very gracious note from John Adams and a copy of Mr. Adams’
son’s newest book. To understand the power of this, one must know both Jefferson’s and Adams’s personal
Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams had not spoken to each other in over a decade. They were not friends any longer. Their polarized
differences in political ideals and opinions had ended their trust and affirmation in each other when Thomas Jefferson was
elected to be the third President of the United States in 1800. There was a definable mutual disdain for each other.
Somehow in the year 1812 and through a series of circumstances that we know not, Adams decided that enough was enough. His
gift and kind words in the accompanying note were all it took to unite these two old friends whose relationship had gone south
over political views over a decade earlier.
They continued exchanging thoughtful and friendly letters of affirmation until the day on which they both died – July
4, 1826. That day was fifty years to the day when the Declaration of Independence which Jefferson had authored was first signed.
Their deaths occurring on the exact same day has often been considered to be one of the most coincidental events of the early
Mr. Adams had grown so fond of Jefferson through the exchange of these letters that his very last words were recorded as,
“Jefferson still lives”. Little did he know that just a few hours earlier Jefferson had died at his Monticello
Almost every one of us comes to the place in life when “enough is enough”. This posture is almost always taken
in the realm of our personal relationships. It may be the relationship we have with our job, our community life, our spouse,
our friends or various family members. Especially as we grow older, we start to re-evaluate ourselves, our circumstances and
our relationships along with our dreams and our goals.
It is then that we begin to reprioritize our lives in a more practical way. We ask ourselves questions about our personal
productivity, our relationships and about our health. One question we often ask is, “How much longer am I actually able
to do what I am doing?” Another genuine question might be, “How long do I want to continue to do what I am doing?”
We may also discover that we have become very disinterested, possibly somewhat distracted and even hyper critical of the world
we experience every day on or off the job. These mentalities may often seem impossible to reverse. It is then that we must
pause and rethink the real values of our faith, our family, our career and our relationships as a whole. Unfortunately, some
people get to that place and are not able to hear themselves well enough to realize what point in life they are at. That can
be very troubling and very confusing to my only them, but also to the people around them.
Another time we often start to reprioritize our lives is when we have reached most if not all of the goals in life we set
before ourselves. This is because there is a form of a psychological vacuum that is taking place within us. For some people
the reaction to this is to set new goals. Many times the new goals are unrealistic, very self centered and often very unachievable.
For others, setting new goals is almost an impossible task to accomplish. This is more often than not based in a fear of not
being able to accomplish these potential new goals.
Then there are those who seem to be content and satisfied with their accomplishments in reaching the goals that they had originally
placed before themselves. If this mentality goes unchecked, these goal realizing accomplishers often express too much pride.
Yet, for those who are able to operate in a measure of humility, the job of making new realistic goals to continue on in is
often quite normal.
Enough is enough when we come to realization that we have become our own worst enemy. This becomes evident when our general
tolerance for close family members and co-workers bottoms out. This is evidenced in many business owners with a constant turn
over of employees over relatively short periods of time.
Many times it is easy to become very frustrated with the direction that our careers are taking us. The ideals of the funeral
and death care profession may be changing in ways we think are not in its best interests. These new mentalities or developments
may simply make us extremely uncomfortable. In that uncomfortable feeling, we may also resist continuing education to keep
up with our careers and adapt to those changes, thinking that the new changes are either unnecessary or not adequate or proper
Others around us often realize that enough is enough when we display an inability to accept my own serious mistakes. This
comes either out of denial of our own abilities to do things the right way, or simply out of a total loss of interest in quality
or exactness in doing the right things the right way.
In any of these scenarios, and a host of other situations, we need to be honest enough with ourselves to realize that we have
come to a position where we need to enact some form of an end game procedure. Sometimes it is just for a temporary season
of life and in many cases it can be permanent.
Many times there can be a variety of choices that will contribute to an individual’s successful end game. When it involves
a career or job within that career, it may be as simple as a new job within the same career. A new frame around someone’s
career or job can make all the difference in their attitude. A new employer or a new sub culture or new geography often brings
a refreshing energy to our work experience. It may revitalize interest and motivation to get back into healthy thought processes
in the performance of someone’s job or career.
Sometimes it is very productive to take a new job in a parallel career. Parallel careers are those directly connected to or
included in some way in the death care industry. These opportunities often help people working together to share their expertise
in very specific ways. It is very likely that in these parallel careers that the opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues
and associates will also arise. Parallel careers may include such jobs like merchandise and supply sales positions, marketing,
upper level corporate management in funeral home corporations, cemeteries, monument, vault and urn companies.
And occasionally we just need to wipe the slate clean and get into a whole new line of work. A new career will often require
further education or some format of continued education. This will mean that in a new career many people will create a new
image or personality that suits their new career better. An example would be, when someone goes from the death care industry
into the some part of the medical industry, there is a transformation of thought that must occur in that reinvention of self.
This is simply because the psychology of these to industries generally runs in different directions. There may be common situations
where skills and historical experiences play into the best results in various circumstances.
As we grow older there comes a time when we all must realize it is time to pass the torch and retire from the business. This
may mean that our business must be sold or properly handed down to the next generation. Other questions must be answered for
this process to effectively work in our lives. These include; How will I spend my time? How will I fund my retirement? How
will it affect my family? Is it really the right time for retirement? Proprietors generally experience the most difficult
problems in letting go of a business they have invested a lot of time and effort into.
Funeral home owners who realize they need to sell their businesses often make the mistake of thinking that their business
is worth more than it actually is. This is because they have invested themselves completely into their businesses in most
cases for decades. There is a lot of personal experience and emotional life that they try to evaluate into the price they
ask. Sadly, those personal blood sweat and tears type of investments generally mean little or nothing to any potential buyer.
The North American post modern culture has produced a mentality that is rooted more in employment than in proprietorship.
This simply means that there are fewer potential buyers of businesses. With increased government regulations and taxes it
is more difficult to find energized potential owners. The other problem is that most of the younger potential business purchasers
are already encumbered with debt from their education. Unless they can make a healthy salary on the front end of ownership
they generally are not going to buy just any business.
A GOOD END GAME
The question of importance is, “Do we want to finish our career and our lives the right way or the wrong way?”
Most people genuinely want to leave a good or positive legacy for their family and fellow professionals. Others will choose
to live their lives out without ever accepting their own mortality. They are the ones who collapse dead in the funeral merchandise
room of a funeral home, or while finishing up an embalming case that could have been done by the younger licensed embalmer
If we truly want to leave a good legacy, this means that we must finish our unfinished work to the best of our abilities.
One productive way of accomplishing this is to make a “bucket list”. A bucket list is a simple list of the things
you want to do, see, experience or accomplish before you no longer can. Two philosophies that you want avoid in your bucket
list is 1). Don’t do or leave unfinished business that will frustrate your heirs, survivors or successors. 2). Don’t
do anything that you will have to seek forgiveness for. Avoiding these two mentalities or philosophies will almost always
create a positive and fruitful legacy.
Contrary to popular thought, creating a healthy and productive end game requires someone to rely on a team effort to accomplish
it properly. No can effectively do it alone. No one should ever really attempt it. Though the reality is true, many people
deny this aspect of putting an end game plan together. Growing to trust that team which is created will ultimately produce
the best results. Remember that it is never good to make others pay for your own ignorance and/or stupidity by not preparing
An end game team may consist of an attorney, an accountant, a real estate broker, a business evaluator, a financial advisor,
a psychologist, a pastor or religious leader and a gathering of close friends and family members. The writer of wisdom in
the Bible says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs
The goal is to produce positive memories for both you and those you will eventually leave behind. It is always best to mend
the “fences” while you can. Some time the “fences” we have built between us and others in our lives
are very old and just need to be destroyed. This can be done by reaching out to take the initiative of reconnecting again.
Other times a simple and polite explanation will bring peace as to why that fence existed or still must exist.
Every relationship any human being encounters begins one way; in some form of communication. Healthy communication initiates
and sustains healthy relationships all throughout our lives. Mis-communication or non-communication is often why we live our
lives separated from those who we probably care very much about in the big picture.
I would like to share some of my personal experiences. As a practicing funeral director, embalmer and funeral home owner for
a decade and a half, I never saw anyone actually pass away. When I went back to school and eventually became a pastor of a
local congregation I started getting called to the bedside of my dying parishioners. Each time I would go, if they were still
able to speak, I would ask them what was their greatest accomplishment, and what was their greatest regret? Of course, their
greatest accomplishments would vary, even though many of them saw the vanity in much of what they did throughout their lives.
But when it came to their regrets, it was never that they wish they would have bought a new car last year or that they had
been able to accumulate more wealth. In some variation or another, it almost was always that they wish they had expressed
more love to the family and friends around them.
A gospel disc jockey I used to listen to when I was a young man used to end every show with this phrase; “Give someone
their flowers while they yet live!” That is the right mentality. It’s not about literal “flowers”
– it’s about how we express our love to others that are important in our lives. That philosophy works every time
and in every way.
We can never express enough genuine love, care and concern for those who help us live our lives and be productive in our careers.
Love is inexhaustible. Love is not an emotion, even though it may produce emotions. Love is not a feeling like we all used
to sing back in the 1970s.
Love in its very core definition is a commitment backed up by what we “do” – not by what we say. We can
say we love someone repeatedly, but unless we do something about it, the words mean nothing. There are variations of intensity
and quality of the love we express, but ultimately it is defined how and what we do.
The common joke amongst many embalmers I have known and worked with over the years is, “He died with a smile on his
face!” Again this is not a literal facial expression in the moment of death. It means that whoever has died settled
their affairs in a productive way and went out content and happy. That can happen to anyone who chooses to make the right
decisions about their careers, their retirement and ultimately their life as a whole. But it takes plan and a team to accomplish
the goal. The plan takes thought and self-discernment. The team takes pure trust. The End Game will only be as important as
you let it be.