Death and EQ

Now I know the title of this blog might alarm some of you and that is not the intended effect — instead, I wanted to share some personal use of EQ in a very personal recent experience. One of my great friends recently lost his mother. She was in her mid 80s and not of best health and so it was not entirely a surprise. My friend Rick was very close to his mother and delivered her Eulogy. In the weeks preceding her death, he found himself in a kind of funk – contemplating topics and people in a way he had not before.

About a week after the funeral, I asked Rick how he was doing and he said – not so good. I asked him why exactly and he said his frame of mind was just not the same and he was hoping to get back to work quickly. I discouraged him from trying to get rid of this “funk” – at times like this, it is arguably the best time to examine Self-Awareness – a major component of EQ. At times like this, what is important to us and what is not becomes clear. Who is important and who is not? What do I do that is important and what do I do that is not important? Do I really spend my time doing the right things? These questions traditionally get asked in the grieving process and I do not understand why people do not appreciate this gift of self-awareness and take advantage of answering these questions as the clarity is almost impossible to duplicate. I offered Rick two thoughts:

  1. It could be argued that the last gift the dead give us are these days and weeks of “funk” – a tremendous opportunity to ask questions we do not normally ask and more importantly, to answer these questions with incomparable clarity.
  2. People pay shrinks/coaches thousands of bucks for an hour or so to get into this mental framework of self-reflection and clarity – why not embrace the “funk” as a gift and hang on to it as long as you can because it will undoubtedly go away soon enough.

Without being explicit, I was making a connection between death and EQ — and proposing that grieving has tremendous advantages – one of them being an unparalleled opportunity to enhance one’s EQ. It is disappointing that sometimes it does take a traumatic event to slap us in the face and force us to ask those questions that ultimately increase our EQ … but my thought for you reading this, is why wait for the trauma? Why not engage in these conversations – either in monologue or dialogue – and explore yourself emotionally. There is an old adage that some people learn from their experiences and others never recover. I propose that challenging or traumatic experiences should be embraced as tremendous learning opportunities – with the deep advantages of coming out of it with better awareness of who you are, what you are made of, what you need to work on, and how you can best get along with both yourself and others – all dimensions of EQ.

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2 responses to “Death and EQ

  1. Pingback: EPowerment « Professional Development

  2. Death and EQ: Great post. I find it unfortunate that we avoid talking about death and chronic/terminal illness in our culture. We tend to isolate ourselves from friends who are dying, and avoid discussions we think are “unpleasant”. I have been blessed (yes, I say blessed) to have been exposed to a lot of death as part of my life, and it definitely increased my self-awareness! It allowed me to express emotions I had not felt legitimate in expressing, and had swept under the rug. I did benefit from therapy and do not regret $1 of the cost at all, since it helped me process all the changes, and I was surprised about the hard physical work my body went through as well. Your post got me thinking about how rich and wonderful the experience of death can be, and how it is part of life. To believe it will not affect us is blindness. My friend Charlie Jones said to me about a month before he died “my friend…..all of us are dying…I’m just further down the road than you are”. To experience the sadness, the grief, the love, the togetherness of those who share the loss in common, the memories, the myriad of emotions and how they play out……everything we are so afraid of…..was so cleansing and so deep, that if we just allow it, we can not help but grow. It seems to me most people would rather die than talk about death! Now that seems ironic.

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