After someone passes away, there is The Aftermath.
Since Whitney died, there have been many emails and calls involving some of us who knew him and miss him.
For me, it has been great to connect with old friends and colleagues. It is a shame that, at times, it takes a tragedy for people to re-connect.
Unfortunately, I’ve been a part of this healing ritual a few times when people die young: Joe Trustey, Mike Connell and my brother-in-law. My mother was only 60 when she passed away, and that was tough.
Death really focuses you. I hugged my family members more often this week, and I popped a call to my sister just to say hello. Frustrations with people and situations just melted away, as I thought about how grateful I was that Mrs. T., my children and I are healthy and have each other.
I’m grateful for my sister and my father, who will always take my call and give me advice that I both want to hear and need to hear.
I’m grateful for friends who have become more like brothers to me. I’m grateful for my work colleagues and a VC firm that is based on mutual trust.
I’m grateful for my business school sectionmates. It’s like having a pack of 90 near-siblings. When any of them reaches out, I am there for them, and vice versa. In a small coincidence, Whitney and I in different years were members of “Section F.”
There are Grave Problems, and then, there are First World Problems. All of my problems are in the latter group. As my friend Brad Feld wrote so eloquently, “They can’t kill you, and they can’t eat you“; in other words, those are two situations that really suck, and everything else isn’t so bad.
Death gives perspective. In particular, it shows that relationships really matter. Not coincidentally, the most robust study of happiness shows that, in the end, the quantity and depth of personal relationships are what really move our lives. In fact, more personal warmth in your life actually leads to more happiness and financial success.
I want to close with two pieces of advice, one emotional and one practical.
First, today, call a friend or a relative just to catch up. In that call, be a net giver vs. a net taker. Build up your personal relationships while you and they still have time.
Second, today, if you’re the prime economic provider for your family, get term life insurance quotes. It is cheap and a no-brainer. Get more than you think you need. You just never know if your family will need it, and they will be deeply grateful, if they do.
I have seen both situations, when adequate life insurance was there and when it was not. Trust me on this. It’s important.