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13 April 2015 Written by 

26 funerals and 1 wedding

Are you getting wise or just getting old?

Old and SenileOld and SenileMany years ago, myself and Linda used to benchmark weddings. When attending friends weddings, we took mental notes of how it all worked. Did the mammies get flowers? What readings worked best in the church? Did the band play Waltzing Matilda? And so on. We were at that stage.

Funeral Benchmarking:
Now I find myself doing the same thing at funerals.  Did the priest get the deceased’s name right? (that seems like quite a fundamental point). Was the eulogy powerful or boring? At one recent funeral, the starting point in a 22-minute soliloquy was the deceased’s intellectual progress when he was a baby! I immediately took an executive decision; my eulogy will not commence until after my First Holy Communion! So, somewhere along the line the benchmarking ratio changed from four Weddings and a funeral to 26 funerals and 1 wedding.

Getting Old:
Ageing sort of creeps up on you. One day you’re playing GAA. Then you gravitate towards golf. Before you know it, you are discussing the price of a pint and the fact that each birthday the candles cost more than the cake. The time slides by quickly. I’m told that when you’re over 80, time goes so fast it feels like you are having breakfast every 15 minutes! Now, we all know the downsides to getting old (it’s a long list). But, are there any upsides to counterbalance this?

Cosmetic Surgery:
Age supposedly brings wisdom. The chance to be yourself. To have authentic conversations. To love yourself, warts ‘n all. If you don’t accept yourself now, when will it happen? Perhaps there is less pressure on men in the ‘getting older’ stakes. No one wants to look old, but there’s a line in the sand when it comes to getting Botoxed to death. When Kim Novak presented an award at the Oscars ceremony last year – this once truly beautiful woman looked like an exhibit in the National Wax Museum. If you look ‘false’ it’s hard for people to take you seriously. Try to maintain eye contact with a man who’s wearing a wig; it’s difficult.

Accepting Yourself:
Accepting yourself is absolutely not the same thing as ‘giving up’. It’s not carte blanch for laziness (physical or mental), a license to guard the couch. There are a million activities to keep learning and growing. But grow forwards. Don’t try to recapture how you looked when you were 22, 33 or 44. The real trick is not just to get old, but also to get wise. Madeleine L’Engle said: “The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been”. When you embrace self-acceptance, you have found the source of mental health. And if you are becoming overly concerned about getting old, just think that it’s a privilege denied to many.


Paul Mooney

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations from the National College of Ireland. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and is an expert on organisation and individual change.  His career began as a butcher before moving into production management. He subsequently joined General Electric and Sterling Drug in Ireland and the Pacific Rim.

He was the of President, National College of Ireland and is Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. Paul has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries. He is also the author of 10 books covering issues around organisation performance and personal change.

Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement

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