The subject of grief is heavy on my mind these days.  The death of a loved one in my husband’s extended family has reminded me how important it is to appreciate each other.  I can say “It was his time” and it would be true.  But, it doesn’t make it any easier.  Our own time is coming closer every day, and we all know it.  We know it of ourselves and we know it of each other.  Yet our lives tick on, each day nearly identical to the last.  Finding the balance between living out the necessities of daily life and actively connecting with loved ones is complicated.

Click here to read about how JumpingOnClouds has been blogging beautifully about the unexpected healing brought about by her mother’s recent brain cancer diagnosis and treatment.  The possibility of death has shifted her priorities and perspective.  The fact that she’s acting on them without reservation inspires me.

Life is mysterious…

When Uncle Ron’s health rapidly declined last week to the point of calling in hospice, people dropped what they were doing to see him.  What is it about grief and death that changes our priorities?  This is a bit mysterious to me.

We spend generously on huge displays of flowers following death.  But what about when they were alive?  Wouldn’t they have enjoyed the flowers then?  We travel great distances to attend a funeral.  Wouldn’t they have enjoyed a visit from us before?  During the memorial service, we tell funny stories and share how much the deceased meant to us.  But wouldn’t they have enjoyed hearing about their impact even more so than the group?

Why Wait?

Why do we wait?  Are we too embarrassed to tell someone how much they mean to us?  Is it too vulnerable?  Do we not realize it until they’re gone?  Have we just taken them for granted?  Does our own history cloud our reality?  I fear all the above might be true for me.

Someone very special to me passed away about 15 years ago.  I called him Dad; in my heart he was my dad and he considered me his daughter as well.  Providentially, I had a conference in Orlando that August and visited him and ‘Mom’ for a few days afterwards.  About six weeks later I got a call telling me Dad hadn’t survived a massive heart attack.  I was devastated.  While grateful for the time we’d just had together, I was distraught there wouldn’t be more until we are reunited in heaven.  It took awhile, but eventually I wrote Mom a letter telling her how much he’d meant to me over the years. 

I keep asking myself why I didn’t tell him directly when it would have meant so much more.  I’m now convinced I couldn’t totally grasp the positive impact his words and life had on me until I really focused on my own history.  Until I could more fully accept how badly my biological dad had hurt me, it was hard for me to accept how much love, guidance and acceptance I felt from the Dad I was now mourning.

It will probably always bother me that I never told him.  In the years since, I’ve tried to be more conscientious of telling people their impact in person, but it’s still hard.  I worry about being laughed at, being told I’m too sensitive or just making people uncomfortable.  Finding that balance of living my daily life and sincerely connecting with those important to me will probably be a lifelong challenge for me.

How about you?  Do key people in your life really know how important they are to you?