One of the biggest regrets for those who have lost a loved one is that they never got a chance to say goodbye, or how much they loved them.
I read in the local paper how a young man who appeared to have taken his life, had told his sister he loved her just minutes before being killed by a train. The sister said:
“I was speaking to my best friend on the phone and she was getting off a train at Hayes station,”
“She saw Tony there, and he said: ‘Tell Louisa I love her’.
“She passed him the phone and he said to me: ‘I know we don’t talk that much but you know I love you.’
“I said: ‘I love you too, bro’, and told him to come over for dinner because dad was away on holiday.
“Then he said: ‘I’ve got to go now’ – and that was it.
“I can take that with me for the rest of my life. Out of everyone in the family, it was fate that I got to talk to him.
“I can feel him with me now.”
Louisa is likely feeling sad and confused about her brother’s death, and yet said “I can feel him with me now.”
The death of a loved one can happen as a result of an accident, a suicide, or perhaps a long-term illness. We never really know when someone is going to die, when they will be gone forever.
But even though they may no longer be around, there is something that does stay forever: that warm feeling of closeness, of happy memories, of inspiring qualities.
Embracing their virtues
In the world in which we live, we tend to get so caught up in our mundane day-to-day activities that we seem to forget to value and appreciate the wonderful qualities of those around us.
But it’s the appreciation of those virtues that make life so worth living. It brings brightness to an otherwise gloomy day. It brings magic to a boring afternoon. It brings lightness a stressful week.
So take the time to tell the people around you how you feel, how they positively impact your life, how they have inspired you to take bold steps.
Anil Bhandary recently wrote:
Extroverts, introverts or ambiverts, all of us have something to say. Something to express. But expressing what is truly in one’s heart is difficult. Because we are scared of being judged, because it sounds ridiculous.
Here is the thing: Life is simple. I know you have many things to say to many lovely people around. Life will only get complicated by not saying what one wants to. Say it, for your heart will get lighter and you will be glad you did. Sure, it would be weird, uncommon, but worth it.
So pick up the phone, send a card, arrange a time to sit and have a coffee, and openly share with the people you care about just how wonderful they are and how much you love them. Then there will be fewer regrets when they are no longer around.
So what do you do if you have already lost someone you love?
Clearly not everyone has the opportunity to tell the ones they love just how they feel about them.
You may even feel that for you it’s too late. But it isn’t. Here are some ideas that may help:
- Write a note: Set some time aside, put pen to paper, and write out what you would have wanted to say to them but never felt you got the chance to.
- Light a candle: In the evening when it is dark and you are alone, light a candle and recollect a fond memory you have with the one you have lost. At that point, express out loud or within your heart just you felt about them, and resolve to carry that strength into your day-to-day work.
- Share memories: Gather a few friends and family and share wonderful stories about the times you had together with the one you have lost. There will be laughs and there will be tears, but your fond memories will live on. Their virtues will live on.
You’ll see that it is never really about saying goodbye. Rather, it is about expressing how you felt about them and recognising the gift of virtues they have left behind for you to embrace in your own life.