Showing posts with label Death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Death. Show all posts

Friday, August 16, 2013

Feeling Gratitude for Loved Ones Who Are Gone

My father, Mike Melancon
When one of my uncles died in 2005, it was sudden and unexpected. He was walking down the hallway on his way to take a shower after work one day and collapsed on the floor. He was gone in seconds.

It was a total shock to the family and everyone who knew him.

No one had the opportunity to tell him good-bye. There were no final hugs.

In contrast, when my father died November of 2012 at age 90, we all had time to prepare. His health had been declining for months, and during his final days each of us had the opportunity to exchange final loving words with him. These are memories we’ll always treasure.

It was hard to watch him deteriorate, but it was comforting to know that there was no unfinished business.

No words of regret we wished we could take back.

Plenty of time to express our affection for him.

Dad left this world knowing that he was loved by each of us, and we in turn were assured about his love for us.

But I still tear up at the thought of not being able to see him whenever we visit Mom. What has eased my grief is filling my heart with gratitude.
Gratitude for all the years we had him. 
Gratitude for living close by and being able to spend time with him and Mom often. 
Gratitude for the tight bond my daughter formed with him and enjoyed for 28 years. I never knew either of my grandfathers. They died before I was born. 
Gratitude for the ability to tell him good-bye.
It’s not easy to arrive at this place of appreciation and gratitude. You have to walk through the pain of loss.

And if the death was sudden, as with my uncle, the process may be even harder. There could be regret or guilt associated with angry words that had been spoken or loving words that had not.

Since life is unpredictable, these questions bear reflection:
How would you want to live to make sure you don’t have regrets if a person you love was gone in a flash? 
How would you talk to each person you care about if you remembered that this could be your last conversation? 
What kinds of offenses would you overlook?  
What angry or unpleasant words would you avoid saying?  
How much more often would you say, “I love you?"

“Each moment is precious and unrecoverable.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, American psychologist

“Gratitude is the heart’s memory.” – French Proverb

“When something does not insist on being noticed, when we aren't grabbed by the collar or struck on the skull by a presence or an event, we take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” - Cynthia Ozick, American novelist