August 28, 2012

Present Circumstances

Deuth,-Dave-colorBy David W. Deuth, CFSP
President, Weerts Funeral Home

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.” …….Nido Quebin

According to his website (, “Dr. Nido Qubein came to the United States as a teenager with little knowledge of English and only $50 in his pocket. His life has been an amazing success story…”

I must admit, I don’t know too much about Dr. Quebin’s life story. His website highlights his distinguished entrepreneurial career: currently serving as the president of High Point University in North Carolina, Chairman of the Great Harvest Bread Company, and a highly acclaimed motivational speaker among many other successes and accomplishments. His little quote about circumstances gave me pause.

In my mind’s eye, I’m imagining this teen-aged immigrant arriving in United States, looking up, down and all around as a whole new world – an entire new way of life – is unfolding right before his eyes. Did he toss his hat up in the air like Mary Tyler Moore? Who knows. But, it’s evident that he embraced his new opportunity to live, learn and grow.

Entrepreneurial success is most often hard-earned. Mistakes are made along the way. New ideas and some “a-ha moments” can bring new insights about different ways to go about doing the same thing. Some work, some don’t. Sometimes learning how to be successful is by learning what doesn’t work….and then trying again and again and again.

The parallels between Quebin’s admonition and what I like to think of as “good grief” are unmistakably clear to me: “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”

Many an “immigrant” to a new way of life following the death of someone they love, also find themselves thrust headlong into a whole new world, perhaps not unlike Mr. Quebin as he made his way to the U.S. years ago. Some must make this adjustment following a lengthy illness and care-giving responsibilities. Others find themselves in the numbness of sudden loss, having no earthly idea when they had their morning coffee that they would be widowed by nightfall. In either scenario, looking up, down and all around, nothing is familiar. Adjustments are necessary. It can be hard work to find a “new normal.”

Like entrepreneurial success, meaningful forward movement following the heartache of loss is hard-earned. Those who have followed my writings over the past years know that I encourage those in loss’s wake to embrace their grief and move toward it. Awkward as it seems, this approach puts you in charge of your grief; conversely, when you neglect or avoid your grief, you will – almost unknowingly – put your grief in charge of you, dictating your every move. Like Quebin chose to do, it’s best to embrace your grief – and new opportunities to live, learn and grow.

“Success” in managing grief and mourning is certainly different from attaining “success” in a career, a business venture or athletics. But, one parallel becomes a common denominator in any forward movement: you have to start somewhere. And wherever you are today is your new starting point.

You can go anywhere from here. Remember Well.