Don’t wait until they’re dead.
Fortunately I haven’t had to attend a great many funerals, but I have yet to attend one where people showed up with gifts for the deceased, maybe a few flowers but that’s all. No gadgets, toolsets or gift cards.
Instead, we take time to celebrate who the deceased was, what they accomplished, and the impact they made in our lives. We reminisce and remember the good times, and the happy moments and memories.
With increasing frequency, I hear people refer to funerals as a celebration of life.
I think this is a brilliant concept, and as I turned thirty-two yesterday, I wondered why we wouldn’t make every birthday a celebration of life.
What if we were to forgo the buying of landfill bound gifts for each other and instead took the time, in a formal way, to celebrate the past year of another’s life?
I have personally received many gifts over the past thirty-two years and I can remember very few of them. I’ve concluded it’s because they are fleeting and inconsequential.
It’s relationships that are important. And we can’t buy them at the store. They are forged through experience and the giving of the best of who we are.
We all need to know we are loved. So what if birthdays were used as an opportunity, like funerals, to spend time celebrating our loved one?
Imagine the positive effect it could have on our relationships if just once a year we took the time to genuinely express appreciation, admiration and gratitude.
How good would it feel inside as we listened to our friends, family and loved ones celebrate our accomplishments, share their favorite memories, and encourage us in our next stage of life?
But instead, we often just write a half-hearted card, click the button on social media and allow a computer to send the message for us, or we wrap a gift the receiver almost certainly didn’t need.
Now I don’t want to sound morose, but the data continues to show alarming trends of loneliness, depression, mental illness, and suicide amongst the general population which means that many of our closest friends and family members are experiencing these things.
Perhaps now, more than ever, we truly need each other. We need people to put down the screen and actually see us, for the amazing people we are becoming. We need to know that someone cares about the hurt and the happiness we are experiencing. We need someone to share our journey with.
At a dark point in my life this past year, I said to my wife, that the irony was that if I were to go into the woods with a rope and not come out, I’d probably have a room full of people at my funeral celebrating who I was, and all the good memories and good times.
But we don’t need a room full of people at our funeral, We’ll be dead and any words, however kind will fall upon deaf ears.
Instead, we need those kind words, those expressions of gratitude, appreciation, and admiration today, tomorrow and throughout our lives. Let’s remember and reminisce today! Not when we’re dead.
We all want to be loved, admired and celebrated consistently throughout our lives, not at the end when we are no longer able to appreciate and hear them?
These thoughts and feelings are obviously more poignant for me as I celebrated my birthday yesterday.
So will you join me in committing to do a little better at celebrating our loved ones on their birthday?
Because one day we or they will be gone and the opportunity to do such things along with us. Of course we can still purchase gifts, but let us always remember that some of the greatest gifts we can give to one another are our time, love, and attention.