I have some questions for y'all today. Can anyone tell me why we wait until someone has passed away to share how amazing, how special, how valued they were? Can anyone tell me why we hold these things inside until we find ourselves standing over a casket, then cry out the many reasons why our lost one will be forever missed? Can anyone tell me why we don't tell people the great things about themselves while they're here to hear it?
This past weekend, I attended my brother-in-law's surprise birthday party. He had hit a milestone birthday last week, and my sis-in-law spent weeks plotting how to surprise the man who seemingly can never be surprised. I'll tell you this - she was most definitely successful, because I thought he was going to have a heart attack when he saw the room full of family and friends who had come to celebrate him.
The evening was dedicated to his life. Through speeches (both live and recorded), slide shows, and special presentations, he heard just how respected, loved, cherished, and inspiring he was. Every word that was uttered was sincere and heartfelt, and people truly wanted him to understand just how much of an impact he had on them. I sat there, incredulous. Now, this was a damn celebration. Then the question came to mind: wouldn't it make a hell of a lot more sense to let people know how great they are while they're able to appreciate and be motivated by it?
Now, I'm not saying to gas people's heads up on the regular. What I am saying is that we're way too stingy with our accolades for each other. A lot of the time, the people you love and/or like are thirsting for some recognition and reinforcement, and they need to hear it now - not when they've passed on. I don't know how many times I've heard someone say "I never told him/her this, but..." as they share an anecdote about how the deceased positively affected them. Has a friend's triumph over crisis inspired you? Let them know now. Have you ever really told your parent(s) how much you truly appreciate them for the guidance they've given you? Share it now. When is the last time you told someone that they had helped you, encouraged you, have done a great job, have a great gift, or anything to let them know you not only acknowledge their presence, but appreciate it? If your S.O./BFF/family member/co-worker homie/teacher passed away, what would you say about them? Take the good things and say them now.
We live in a largely quantitative, speedy-service society. How much money do you have? How much time do you have? We need a lot of the former but are suffering from a lack of the latter. This spills over into our interactions with others. We're working crazy hours at jobs to pay the bills. We don't have time to do something nice for ourselves, let alone for each other. But when you get that call that makes your world stop, all of a sudden we find the time to say, "Man...she/he was such a GREAT person." If we had shared that while they were still here, it could have been a game-changer. Maybe they would have felt capable of achieving a goal. Maybe they wouldn't have felt invisible. Maybe they wouldn't have felt like a failure. We don't know the depth of the pain, frustration, and self-doubt some people feel day in and day out - that tiny bit of acknowledgment and positive reinforcement could mean the world to someone.
It's easy to assume that our loved ones know how much we value them, but we all know what there is to be said about assumptions. Saving kind words for funerals is equivalent to burying the family dog with a brand new chew toy. Sure, it's nice that they have it now, but wouldn't they have enjoyed it and done more with it while they were here? *insert pensive face here*
I'm a big believer of the idea that the energy you give out is the energy you'll receive. Imagine how enriched life would be if we shared the positives about each other in the here and now? Say something genuinely nice about how someone has affected you, and see if the same doesn't come back to you in spades. Let me know what you guys think...