Regret #3 in the book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying is:
"I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings."
I think we all hope and pray for those death-bed moments when our loved one is lucid and we are present and we will get to say all the things we've not said to them when we thought they'd be around forever.
I have a hunch that kind of priceless moment is more rare than we know.
So, we need to say things now if we don't want to face this particular regret.
Some families are better at this than others. Some speak words of gratitude and kindness and generosity all the time. Others are more reticent, for all kinds of reasons.
I think the key to this is to be who you are, but to push yourself just a little, if need be.
One of the ways we've tried to do this in our family is upon both of my parents' 80th birthdays (Yes, I probably should have done it sooner) I encouraged all the grandchildren, the children and the kids-in-law to write a letter of any length to each grandparent expressing their favorite memories, what they learned from each of them and how much they loved them.
It took some poking and prodding to get everyone to complete the task, but oh my soul was the end result worth it.
My mom called it a "red hanky moment" in honor of her own father who carried a red bandana in his pocket and used it more and more the older he got when all kinds of moments brought him to tears.
My dad felt the same.
And I felt like maybe just maybe I was crossing this regret off my potential list, at least when it came to my parents.
But what about the others in my life? My husband? My kids? My friends?
What about the loved ones in your life?
Might it be time for a short and sweet conversation?
Or if that is not your style, an e-mail or a hand-written note work just as well.
You don't have to say everything. Just say something.
I think someday it will matter more than you will ever know.