I was working in West Virginia last week when I received a phone call from Heather, my granddaughter who lives in Louisiana. She was distraught and filled with grief as she sobbed into the phone the news that her paternal grandmother had died unexpectedly. She also was filled with guilt because she had been planning on going to Virginia to visit her dad and his parents and just had not been able to get herself together to make the trip. Therefore, she missed seeing her grandmother one last time. I explained to her, that when devastating things happen in our lives, and we can’t go back and change them, all we can do is be with our feelings and move forward.
It’s very sad and difficult to go through grief at any time, let alone having guilt piled on top of the grief. Life is fragile and we never know when our life or anyone else’s will end. It can happen in an instant, without warning, and it could be devastating to spend the rest of our lives saying to ourselves, “If only”, “What if”, or “Why didn’t I?” On a moment by moment basis, one thing we don’t usually know is whether we’ll see our loved ones again. So, it makes sense to me that we live our lives fully with fearlessness, consideration, and love. It may be too late to wait till tomorrow to make that phone call to tell someone we love them, or to apologize for something we may have said or done.
Whenever I hear of someone dying unexpectedly, I get introspective and search my heart to see if there’s anyone I need to mend fences with, or if there’s something I need to say or do. I usually try to let the people in my life know I care about them through words and deeds. Unfortunately, many of us lead such busy lives that we don’t take the time to appreciate each other. We take it for granted that others will know we love them and we care. But, will they? There are times when I feel forgotten and unappreciated and perhaps there are people in my life who feel I’ve forgotten them or don’t appreciate them. Any act of kindness and thoughtfulness is welcomed by all of us because it lets us know we matter and that someone is thinking of us.
I invite you to think about the people in your life who you care about, and ask yourself , “When was the last time I let them know how much I care?” or “What can I do to let them know I appreciate them?” Following are a few suggestions for acts of kindness and thoughtfulness:
- Pick up the phone and call someone just to say “Hi, I’m thinking about you.” I always feel loved when my younger daughter calls me without an agenda. She just wants to say hi and to let me know she cares. She leads a busy life raising children and being involved in their lives, but she takes time to let me know I’m important to her by phoning me. I call my mother every weekend to see how she’s doing and to remind her that I love her and miss her. I know she’s grateful for the call, because before we hang up she always thanks me for calling her.
- Send someone you love flowers. I love cut flowers and delight in having them in my house. At least once a month my husband will walk in the door with a bouquet of flowers hidden behind his back to surprise me. I love the gesture of thoughtfulness as much as I love the flowers. That act lets me know he’s thinking of me on his way home from work. What a priceless gift. It’s much better to give someone flowers when they’re alive and can enjoy them, then to put the flowers on their grave after they’re gone. Think about it.
- Write a letter or a card to someone you care about. My girlfriends and I send cards to each other, and when I receive mine I sit it on a shelf in the living room so I can see it whenever I look in that direction. That card is a reminder that someone cares enough to go out of their way to send me a love note.
- Do what you need to do to keep peace in your relationships. Be willing to give up and give in. I ask myself, when faced with anger or misunderstanding with the people with whom I have personal ties: “Do I need to win and be right, or would I rather have the relationship work?” It makes sense to agree to disagree and not make the other person wrong if they have a different belief or opinion about something. Ultimately, whether something is black, or red, or white, is not as important as giving each other space to have our own beliefs. My husband and I have a few different likes and dislikes, but our relationship is intact because we talk about our differences. We also do not expect the other person to give themselves up so one can be right and the other wrong. That way, we both get to win and we keep the respect and kindness towards each other flowing. The issues I’m talking about here are not life values that you may not want to compromise. In those situations, there are times when a relationship cannot be maintained, but you can still care about the other person while agreeing to go separate ways.
- Pay someone a visit, take them out for a meal, or meet them somewhere for a cup of tea. One of the best gifts we can give others is our time. Time is precious and to be willing to give it to someone else is a wonderful gift. What can be so important in life that we can’t take time to be with another human that we care about? A good question to ask yourself is, “If my loved one were to die tomorrow, would I feel remorse because I was too busy to sit and have a drink, a meal, or a conversation with him/her?”
I hope you will take a moment this week to let someone in your life know that you love them, just because you do. I think we would all like to know that if we lost someone we loved,that we had done everything we could to let them know we cared. Don’t wait. Tomorrow may be too late. Life is fragile.