“Don’t forget to tell your favorite people that you love them.”
– Shirley Temple
Think about the people we love the most. Remember the fun we have when we are together, whether it’s our family or friends or even the team from work that has become like a second family to us. What makes these times together so special? What brings the smile to our face when we think about them? Really take a moment and think about one person that means the most in the world to you, right now. What is it about them that warms your heart?
Now imagine having to say a final goodbye to that person; if we only have a few moments left with them, ever; if they are dying. What would we say? What words could even sum up the emotions and memories and how could we even express all of it to them, if we have the chance? When something happens to someone we love unexpectedly, we may be asked to think about what we would say.
Would it be a profession of love? Would it be a list of gratitude for all we have received from this one person? Would it be a song the two of us share that we want to sing one last time? What about a poem or prose or prayer that holds a special meaning? Would it be silence?
And now think about this differently, what if we were the one dying? What would we say to the people in our life, one last time? Would we express our love for them, would we apologize for the wrongs we have done, would we ask for forgiveness? Would we share a last meal together or play a last card game or take one last bike ride or watch one last movie? Would we look in their eyes and express what we’ve not had the courage to say up until this point? Would we leave words of wisdom or advice? Or a card to open in one year? So many things to think about…
There really is no need to wait until these final moments to have conversations, to speak these words, sing the songs, write the poem, speak from the heart. Think how our relationships might change if we spoke these things in real time.
And for the unexpected times, we have the ability to write some things down, just in case. And keep these messages with your advance directives, so people know what you would have said if you could have said it. Imagine the comforting words to help in the sad moments, or a light-hearted message to bring a smile or confirming what we know they already know, that you love them and are so proud of them, even if you are gone.
Take the time to tell them now, before they’re gone and before you’re gone. And take the time to plan for the unexpected times, too.