In the last decade I’ve lost several people I cared deeply about. That process may have started for you. If it hasn’t, it will begin sooner than you can imagine. A thoughtful client said we used to attend friends’ weddings. Now we go to their funerals. We’re all somewhere on that timeline.

I thought I was too young to lose two people I care about in the same week. But that happened three weeks ago. One was Skip.

We didn’t know each other long, but I appreciated Skip’s courtesy, maturity, and the stories of his travels and career. I felt a loss even though our time together was short. I learned more about what a blessing Skip was. His successor trustee reported that Skip had introduced her to his best friend, who became her husband. When she was considering going to law school after traditional college age, Skip had encouraged her. Now, 20 year later, she is serving his family as Skip’s trustee/ executor.

Leslie’s life was different from Skip’s. Thirty years ago, when she worked for me, she challenged me on the ethics of my word choice in a marketing piece. She pointed out that if your intent is to deceive, it’s irrelevant whether the facts are literally true. That stung, but she was right and changed my communications for good.

Most American think that success means money or fame. Leslie could have had a life like that. With her skills and character, she would have been successful and lived the good life, but she chose another path.

She and her husband became missionaries in some of the poorest parts of the world. Leslie used the skills she might have used to build wealth, to help others and find ways to support her work. She was an admirable woman who gave her life for a cause that mattered deeply to her.

Wise people think of significance as benefiting others, being involved in a cause greater than your own life, serving some purpose that will outlive you. I’m thinking about those things as I contemplate the next phase of my life. I’ve discovered that the death of friends leads me to think about the lessons of their lives.

What have you learned from the lives of friends?


Terry Moore, CCIM, is the author of Building Legacy Wealth: How to Build Wealth and Live a Life Worth Imitating. Read his “Welcome to My Blog.

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