In this season of Thanksgiving and gift giving, when tensions are high and budgets are strained, and food, family, and shopping are on everyone’s mind, I’d like to offer a new perspective for the season, and ultimately for life. Attending four funerals in less than three months teaches you a thing or two about life, if you’re alert and listening. Let’s learn from those who we have transitioned to the other side and not get side-tracked from what really matters in this fleeting earthly life. Seven lessons follow:
- Spend time with people in ways that bring them joy and happiness. It is a less expensive and ultimately a more lasting gift.
- Give those you care about flowers while they can still see and smell them. Flowers don’t have to be physical flowers either. Give your heart, your love, your time, your attention, your encouragement, and your kindness.
- Don’t say things that you may later regret. You’re familiar with the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.” There is some good in every single person. Make it a priority to find that goodness and focus only on it.
- Reach out to family and friends. Pick up the phone, write, or visit people. When you think about them, make an effort to connect with them. Do what you can to bring your own family closer and let people know how much you care about them. My son Shawn says that Lil Larry was our family’s Facebook before the internet facebook. He kept in touch with everyone.
- Forgive each other and unite. Create rituals that keep the family unit connected. Ms. Frances called her sisters and children every day just to see how they were and to tell them she loved them.
- Say kind words while others can still hear them. At the funeral of Frances Coley, several people commented that they had NEVER heard her say an unkind word about anyone. Can you say this? It’s admirable to speak kindly of the dead, but it’s even more meaningful to say nice things of the living. To be able to speak at all is a divine gift that only we humans have. So use your words responsibly for they are powerful.
- Really care about other people. Be gentle with them and really listen to them. Jacquelyn Lefton was one of those people who seemed to see your very soul when you were in her presence. She always spoke softly and gently and looked you right in the eyes and nodded with each word. You felt like she really heard you and that she fully understood what you were saying. But more than this, you left her presence feeling like she really cared about you. Remember, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!”
And finally, remember you can’t attach a U-Haul to a Hearse. All you take with you and all you leave with others is confined to the heart.
I’m Barbara Talley, The Poet who speaks and inspires. To find more about me, visit: www.thepoetspeaks.com