I am always trying to think up the next “million dollar idea”.
For instance, I want my car to come equipped with different horns for different situations (someone has done it, I see, but I swear I had that idea ten years ago), a diaper genie for kitchen food waste, and a website where you can download forms to help you tell people how you feel about them while they are still alive. The last one was going to be called SayItNow.com but when I pitched it to those closest to me, I got some lukewarm feedback. And some crinkled brows. Plus, my mother said “that is horribly depressing”. Figures that the one thing I could do without the aid of an engineer got a big thumbs down.
However, this is what sparked the idea: I work part time in a beautiful funeral home. It has the feel of a fine hotel – wide staircases, an enormous, glittering chandelier, and furniture clad in the softest fabrics. The building is kept immaculately clean, soft music dances gently through the speakers and it always smells like vanilla shortbread cookies. Lots of people say they couldn’t do my job, but my office is quiet and civilized and filled with a supportive staff who treat each other like family.
It also has a state-of-the-art sound system, and, quite often, I can listen to the eulogies given during funerals over the speakers scattered about the funeral home. While every funeral and every family is different, there are a few similarities:
Flowers. So many flowers.
Eulogies from loved ones reminiscing about the good times and speaking well of the deceased.
It leaves me wondering if anyone said such wonderful things to them while they were alive.
I try very hard to remember the fleeting nature of life and if I were rich, I’d like to rent a plane to sky write: DON’T WAIT – TELL THOSE YOU LOVE HOW YOU FEEL RIGHT NOW. Grief is painful and leaving things unsaid and undone intensifies this pain. Now, there have been volumes written on grief but the most meaningful words I’ve read were written by Jamie Anderson:
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go”.
If grief is painful, guilt magnifies this pain. The guilt sneaks up on you and weighs you down with thoughts of “if only…”. So I think everyone should take the time now, while your loved ones are still alive to express how you feel about them.
A genuinely kind note written from the heart is never a bad idea and is always welcome. For instance, I work with a man who is very quiet. Pleasant always, but not overly emotional. Yet, every single Christmas he gives out Christmas cards with the most beautiful sentiments handwritten on the inside. I keep every single Christmas card I’ve ever received but I keep his in my desk to read throughout the year. They always make me smile.
So write the letters, send the notes saying “thinking of you”, email the friends who mean the most to you. Buy the cheesy cards, send flowers, tell your family you know they did their best. Say thank you with a card. Make someone you love laugh. Take a shitload of pictures. Host a crappy dinner party. Get over the awkwardness of self-expression. Just get over it.
Or, if you can’t, order a card from these people. They are hilariously vulgar.
Who would you like to hear from? To whom do you owe a thank you? How do you want to be remembered? Celebrate the people you love and those who love you. Say it now.