Service for Jane Juergens

The funeral for Women on Fire member Jane Juergens was held today in Westerville, Ohio. The following remarks were made by Jan Allen during the service.

It was evident on Wednesday night, at the candlelight vigil, how many circles of love Jane Juergens occupied. First and foremost, her family – Andy’s words so eloquent, powerful, uplifting – funny and serious, just like Jane. Her lifelong friends. The people she came to know through her sons. The Westerville community. Her friends from dance and Pilates.

The people she knew professionally, who had become more than colleagues in and around the workplace.  And women she came to know through Women on Fire, the organization founded and led by my best friend, Debbie Phillips, of which Jane was such an integral part.  Women on Fire exists to support women to live their dreams.

That is where I first began to know Jane.  Then, she reached out to join my 2012 coaching group called Life, Ignited.  We connected immediately – a quality that Jane brought to every interaction – and she diligently began to work on her dream of having her own HR consultancy, and becoming a coach herself.

In our very first conversation, she got very clear about where she wanted to go and how and then moved with deliberation and speed to prepare.  Andy described her the other night as fearless.

I can’t recall how many times I said to myself, after hearing all that Jane had done in the last month to grow, learn, get certified, prepare to create new products and to launch her business, “wow, this woman has courage.”  And she was also saucy and so funny – we laughed out loud through half of that first, long coaching conversation.

One of our organizing tasks at the beginning of the group was to choose our personal “themes” for the year – something to guide each of our paths and help us focus.  A great exercise developed by my friend Debbie, a theme gives you an easy way to make decisions about where to invest your time and energy.

So I fully expected Jane’s theme to be about building her new business.  As she had said in a note to me and I quote her here: “I want to make the world a better place one manager at a time. I feel very fortunate and would like to help bring out the best in others.”

But she surprised me completely in this email about her choice:

I worked on my theme for over a month and had trouble making it truly resonate.  Last Wednesday morning I abandoned it altogether and replaced it with “inspire and be inspired.” In my Pilates class that same evening, Julie Wilkes, my instructor, friend and motivational guru announced that she had launched her first app – the “happy life app.” It has four tabs and the first one is “inspire me.” I knew at that moment that I’d made the perfect theme choice and I’ve been blessed by many opportunities to give and receive inspiration in the last few days.”

This, too, was pure Jane.  Choosing as her theme who she was  – so inspiring with her high-voltage smile, her always open arms, her unrelenting optimism, and always, always, her care and concern for the other – and pushing to be even more of that.

She definitely inspired us in life.  One of the notes that Debbie received after Jane’s death was from Brigid McClain who attended our Women on Fire Tea just a month ago, here in Columbus.  She and Jane had never met but sat next to each other that evening.

Dear Debbie,

I read this last night right after you posted it and I am still sick to my stomach…I felt so privileged to sit between Jane and Kacy at the tea. Their smiles were like sitting between two 150-watt bulbs! I had not met Jane before and we immediately connected. She was so upbeat and supportive when I told her snippets of my story. She told me one of the wonderful things about working for herself was now being able to take walks and run during the day and she felt so blessed…

As you mentioned, she also told me she was so incredibly happy at this point. Even though she was so busy she found time to call my daughter and give her ideas on how to find a business mentor. She just spoke with her last Friday evening! My daughter is so upset…I just can’t quit thinking about her boys. I hope they realize how proud she was of them and how happy she was at this point in her life…it is devastating and a senseless loss of someone so dedicated to bringing out the best someone has to offer…

And this from Debbie:

Jane was the very epitome of a Woman on Fire.  She was a charter member of our organization — she was member #00025 — and quickly became a role model for other women and a rising star because she arrived possessing those special qualities we cherish — she cheered on and supported others in their dreams; she never stopped learning and growing; she was brave and bold; she was loving and caring; and she went for her dreams!

Her influence in our worldwide community was strong enough that while we held a candlelight vigil here in Columbus last week, her light shone brightly across the Internet. Her Women on Fire sisters across the country and from as far away as New Zealand and Africa posted on Facebook tributes to her and photos of their own candlelight vigils in honor of her. It was a magnificent show of love for our Jane.

Jane will be remembered forever for her bright, shining light … an original Woman on Fire.

But it is evident from all the notes, Facebook posts and conversations, that Jane is also inspiring us – friends and strangers alike – even in death.  I know I have found myself in this last week, choosing those opportunities to “be with” those I love and care about, instead of just getting my next task done. As sad as I feel, I appreciate the world more, and the small precious moments of each day.  That’s because of you, Jane and who you remind us to be.

The last time I saw her was the Friday before last Sunday, at an early morning breakfast event I was co-hosting, with our guest speaker, a biophysicist from Wake Forest, here to talk about energy medicine.

As our mutual friend Jessika Ferm, who also attended, said to me in the last few days, Jane was radiant that day and indeed, she lit up this room as she lit up every room into which she walked. And she proudly gave me her new business card for her business PeopleGen, with the beautiful tagline “Bringing your talent to light.”

It is so tempting to dwell on Jane’s death, and the manner of it.  But to do that would be to dishonor her.  She died once; we should not have her dying over and over in our minds.  That would be a distraction from remembering her in life and the real lessons she taught us, among them:

  • Love your family and hold them close, very close.  Matt and Andy, she loved you dearly and spoke of you often, as she did her mom and dad.
  • Love and adore your friends and help them and be helped by them, as she was by her best friends Barbara and Marc, and so many others in her circles of love.
  • Live every day to the fullest.
  • Never stop growing.
  • Never stop moving, literally and figuratively, and never, ever stop dancing.
  • Inspire and be inspired.

Jane, we will never forget you.