In the last seven weeks, I and my family have lost two people who were very close to us. It was a long road for them both, and both were suffering. I’m sure that they’re better off now than they were at the end.
The weeks following either loss was filled with family, tears, laughter, and love. We gathered not to mourn the deaths of loved ones, but rather to celebrate their lives. We told stories that made is laugh, some that made us cry, but all made us proud to have been a part of the lives of those we lost. We focused not on their absence, but the presence of the values they left imprinted in ourselves and our families.
When I was fourteen, I lost my father to a battle with cancer. He’d sat us all down some months before he went, to make sure we were prepared and that everything would be taken care of in his absence. He’d told us not to mourn for him, and not to spend a lot of money on the funeral. Funerals are for the living, not the dead, he said.
Several years later as I was looking back, I realized he spent a lot of his last few months telling us that we did a good job on this or that, or that he was proud of us. I remembered taking some comfort in knowing that, but it only occurred to me when it was too late, that I don’t think I ever told him as much. I don’t think anyone ever really told him how great a job he’d done in everything he had to do, and that it made us proud to have him as a father. I know he knows it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have had to say it.
My father was right. Mourn the dead, but be there for the living. Don’t wait until they’re going or gone to tell them how much you love and appreciate your loved ones. Don’t wait until someone goes before you get together. Do it before you’re saying goodbye. Do it before Mother’s or Father’s day. Do it today, now, if you can. There’s never a bad time to tell someone you love them, and it can never be said too much.