This morning, I was listening to the radio on my way to yoga. The hosts were discussing gratitude and moved to a story about a hospice nurse, who was sharing her wisdom from over 25 years doing her work. She mentioned that people often die the way they live. Some people are grateful and peaceful, others are resentful and angry. You can read or listen to the story here: http://mynorthwest.com/11/2128561/Hospice-nurse-shares-list-of-five-things-you-must-say-before-you-die
What struck me, though, was her advice about five things we should say before we die. They are:
- Thank you
- I love you
- I’m sorry
- Please forgive me
I was thinking about this in terms of parenting, and here are my thoughts. First of all, in addition to being parents, each of us is also a child. As that child, perhaps you are dealing with an aging parent. Perhaps your parents are in great health, or perhaps, they are already gone. If your parents are still with you, find a way this month to say thank you for what they have given you. Find a way to say “I love you.” Are there things you regret in your relationship that you have responsibility for? If so, say “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me.” If you do this, I can almost guarantee it will be easier for you to say goodbye when the time comes.
If your parents are already gone, you can do this as a journal exercise or as a prayer.
Now, think about your children. Are there things you would like to thank them for? Don’t wait. Thank them now, and thank them often. Find ways to say “I love you.” You may want to check out Gary Chapman’s Five Love Languages (www.5lovelanguages.com) to figure out how your child likes to give and receive love.
Have you blown it lately? We all do from time to time. Say “I’m sorry.” I often have said, “I’m sorry I acted that way; however, I’m not sorry I was upset.” Feelings are all ok, but we need to be responsible for our behavior. Modeling this for our children is a priceless gift, as is asking for forgiveness.
I hope you are not in a place where you know you are going to die soon, but if you are, or if that happens in the future, be sure to take some time to say goodbye. We are not really great at this in our culture, yet it is so very important. Giving someone the gift of goodbye allows them to say hello to the next step.
These practices, as part of our daily lives, can help us create open, healthy relationships with our parents and children, and help prepare us for the inevitable. Everyone with a belly button has limited time on this earth. Make it count.