It has long annoyed me that we often wait until people are dead before telling them how we feel about them. Instead we wait until their funeral to talk about what it is that makes them special to us.
As a person who has lost many family members this seems like a completely insane idea. They went very suddenly – grandparents, parents, a brother, aunts, uncles and cousins*. And then came the eulogies. Just a speech at a funeral, in front of a coffin. No time for us to say to them what was in our hearts. No chance to share how they’d made life so special and wonderful. No chance to hear back from them.
I often observe people who complain about their parents or grandparents with a touch of envy. They have access to a part of their emotional and family heritage that is quite precious. I suspect that we often do not recognise how precious it is until it’s gone from our reach.
Don’t wait. At any moment loved ones can be snatched from us, suddenly and without recourse. Don’t leave it until the eulogy to let them know how you feel. Even if they laugh in your face you’ll have owned the emotions and been true to yourself.
Owning our emotions is one of the hardest things in human existence. Doing it no matter what other people do or think is very important. It is part of becoming a fully grown human who can acknowledge pain as well as joy. And owning the emotions – complex, joyful, poignant, and painful – that are inherent in our relationships is an important way to reduce anxiety.
* By the way I’ve still got some relatives – several brothers; some aunts, uncles and cousins.
Note: I’d just like to say thank-you to all the people who reached out when I tweeted last night while thinking about this post. You’re all very kind and I appreciate you: @RealNickHodge @tealou @salisburydowns @davidahood @erkpod @JulieManfredi @MiA_Will @jodiem @aimee_maree @middleclassgirl @tleeuwenburg @helenperris @Sandra_DSouza